Cardinal O'Brien's Christmas Message  

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland has this week released his Christmas message. The full text (832 words) is shown below, together with an abridged version of the text (444 words). An audio version of the message MP3 (3m) is also available on request from the Catholic Media Office.  

CARDINAL O BRIEN S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2007 (832 words)  


When we compare the seemingly peaceful and tranquil scene of the first Christmas in Bethlehem to what we are experiencing at this present time, we can easily become pessimistic about the state of our world. There are, of course, very many reasons for a certain pessimism. Among them, the reality of searing poverty in much of our world, the threat of the renewal and proliferation of nuclear weapons and the ongoing disregard for marriage together with the undermining of family life and its value to society in our own country and across Europe. Not to mention the widespread de-Christianisation of our society, never more evident than at this time of year. In a recent debate in Parliament a Christian MP suggested that taking Christ out of Christmas was like serving turkey without any stuffing. I disagree. Christmas without Christ is like serving stuffing without any turkey! A gesture that is both empty and void without context or meaning.  


Rather than becoming despondent and pessimistic however Christians must live in hope. The message of hope has in recent weeks been the subject of an encyclical letter by Pope Benedict XVI and that same message was echoed by nine of our Scottish Christian leaders who worked together to prepare a shared Christmas message. An endeavour, which in itself is a sign of hope. Above all else the Christmas season is a time of hope - hope for all of the earth “ that we will see love and joy and goodness and beauty, the signs of God s presence on earth and renew our hope that there will be peace and goodwill among all peoples.  

As we look to the New Year ahead we must be ready to translate these hopes into action. We must continue to pressurise our political leaders to ensure that they are more and more aware of our international obligations to do more to alleviate the needs of the suffering throughout the world. Many promises have been broken or at best have remained unfulfilled at this present time. We must ensure that these unfulfilled promises are indeed fulfilled to alleviate the needs of the poor.  

With regards to marriage and family life we must be prepared to stand up and be counted in the face of negative legislation ensuring that the Laws of God are being observed by our legislators. So much legislation is quite simply against the Laws of God in the Ten Commandments. Was it not from the words of God that we realise that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for the procreation of human beings; is it not listed in the Ten Commandments that thou shalt not kill “ that command being fulfilled in the preservation of life from the first moments of conception until natural death?  


And with regard to the future of our world surely we must constantly be seeking the ways of peace and as the Old Testament prophet tells us to continue to beat our swords into ploughshares. How can we reconcile the countless millions being spent and being promised to maintain nuclear arsenals in the face of so much abject and dire poverty throughout the world.  

While acknowledging the situation in which we find ourselves Pope Benedict, in his encyclical letter asks us to look forward rather than to look back; to look to that future which Christ came to bring on earth while still being aware of our past failures.  

In the message from Scotland s Christian leaders which I was pleased to sign we are reminded that: Christmas is a time for looking beyond the evils of this present time to see goodness and beauty in those around us, to look at tragedy and see the stories of kindness and compassion that carry with them the hope of life beyond the darkness; and to look at violence and see the efforts made to change these patterns and see in them signals of hope for a safer world.  


While we relax at home with our families at this time and enjoy something of the comforts for which we have legitimately worked, we may consider the evils that exist around us and across the world. We should however look on these as a means of hope and an opportunity for ourselves to engage ever more positively as members of our Church, as members of our society, as people with a conscience, to act and to challenge others to act in the face of those many peoples who do not have nor do not use their own consciences.  


Christ came on earth to bring us that message of peace and goodwill. While we enjoy that peace and goodwill in our own homes and in our own country at this present time may we make every endeavour to spread that peace and goodwill within our country and to the rest of the world and all its peoples whom Christ came on earth to save.  



CARDINAL O BRIEN S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2007 (444) words  


When we compare the seemingly peaceful and tranquil scene of the first Christmas in Bethlehem to what we are experiencing at this present time, we can easily become pessimistic about the state of our world. There are many reasons for a certain pessimism. The reality of searing poverty in much of our world, the threat of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the ongoing disregard for marriage and family life. Not to mention the widespread de-Christianisation of our society, never more evident than at this time of year. Recently a Christian MP suggested that taking Christ out of Christmas was like serving turkey without any stuffing. I disagree. Christmas without Christ is like serving stuffing without any turkey! A gesture that is both empty and void without context or meaning.  


Rather than becoming despondent and pessimistic however Christians must live in hope. The message of hope has in recent weeks been echoed by nine of our Scottish Christian leaders who worked together to prepare a shared Christmas message, stressing that above all else the Christmas season is a time of hope - hope for all of the earth “ that we will see love and joy and goodness and beauty, the signs of God s presence on earth and renew our hope that there will be peace and goodwill among all peoples.  

As we look to the New Year ahead we must be ready to translate these hopes into action. We must pressurise our political leaders to ensure that they are more and more aware of our international obligations to help the suffering throughout the world.  

We must be prepared to stand up and oppose negative legislation on marriage and family life ensuring that our legislators are observing the Laws of God.  


We must constantly seek the ways of peace and beat our swords into ploughshares. How can we reconcile the countless millions being spent and being promised to maintain nuclear arsenals in the face of so much abject and dire poverty throughout the world?  

Christmas is a time for looking beyond the evils of this present time to see goodness and beauty in those around us, to look at tragedy and see the stories of kindness and compassion that carry with them the hope of life beyond the darkness.  


Christ came on earth to bring us that message of peace and goodwill. While we enjoy that peace and goodwill in our own homes and in our own country at this present time may we make every endeavour to spread it to the rest of the world and all the people whom Christ came on earth to save.  


ENDS  

Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  
07968 122291  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org  
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