Cardinal praises "dedication and commitment" of Catholic teachers

Wednesday 30 April 2008

Cardinal praises "dedication and commitment" of Catholic teachers

Speaking at the Conference of Catholic secondary Head teachers at Crief Hydro on Thursday 1 June 2008 Cardinal Keith O'Brien in a keynote address will pay tribute to the dedication and commitment of Scotland's Catholic Head teachers and their staff while acknowledging the continued success of Catholic schools.

Cardinal O'Brien will also highlight his disappointment that so few media outlets seem to provide positive coverage of Catholic education, preferring instead to give "disproportionate space for the expression of the old rhetoric of suspicion and hostility when there is so much ˜good news which could be aired and written." Citing a very low level of media coverage of this year's Cardinal Winning education Lecture delivered by First Minister Alex Salmond, the Cardinal will describe this as an example of the "determined and blatant bias is a sad phenomenon to which we have become all too accustomed in Scotland."

Cardinal O'Brien will also call on the leaders of Scotland's political parties to follow Alex Salmond's lead by celebrating rather than tolerating Catholic education. In a strongly worded call he will say; " I challenge them - quite simply - to tell the truth about Catholic schools in Scotland: to acknowledge their considerable contribution to Scotland s welfare, to recognise their distinctive provision, to praise their achievements and to pledge their support.   In the First Minister s own words, It s time to celebrate Catholic education in Scotland ; the time for grudging acceptance and outright hostility is in the past."

Cardinal O'Brien will also commend the work of the Scottish Catholic Education service under its Director Mr Michael McGrath, paying particular tribute to the recently developed ˜Called to Love   programme a teaching resource for use in Catholic schools when delivering sex and relationships education. He will describe the resource as " a distinctive vision to which young people can aspire - a vision of lives created and growing in love, living for love, being faithful and committed to God s call to love and being responsible in love." adding "This is another example of how Catholic schools are distinctive in the vision which we offer.   We are promoting responsible behaviour and we are providing factual information to young people but we are doing so in an unambiguous moral context. "

The full text of Cardinal O'Brien's address is shown below:

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



CATHOLIC HEAD TEACHERS ASSOCIATION OF SCOTLAND CONFERENCE
 
ADDRESS BY CARDINAL KEITH PATRICK O BRIEN
 
CRIEFF HYDRO HOTEL
 
THURSDAY 1 MAY 2008
 
 
Introduction:  
The title for your conference - Promoting Values and Equality - is, I would suggest, not only appropriate to Scottish Catholic Education.   It could be argued that it refers to the great need of our time - vital in many areas of the life of our nation, and in nations across the world.
Today I want to speak about our understanding of ˜Equality in our world and about the kinds of ˜Values which all schools should be promoting.   I want to affirm you in your vital role in education and in the Church. And I want to encourage you as you continue to make your way on that seemingly never-ending journey to excellence.
Firstly, however, I want to thank you and your staff for your dedication and your commitment.   I see this first hand when I visit your schools and I meet young people who are clearly benefiting from the education which you are providing for them.   I know how much they gain from the opportunities you provide for them to live, learn and grow in an environment which does more than care for them.   It is clear to me that you and your colleagues clearly love these young people, and that you help them to love others.   ˜Love is a theme to which I shall return.
Today is an opportunity for me, on behalf of all the Bishops of Scotland, to add the Church s voice to those other expressions of recognition which you have heard this year.   Each of my brother Bishops appreciates the great work being done in Catholic schools across Scotland.   At meetings of the Bishops Conference we regularly discuss the significant achievements of Catholic schools. We hear regularly from Michael McGrath and Neil Roarty, who report on the work of SCES and of the Catholic Education Commission. In the various Dioceses, at meetings of Head Teachers, at Masses in Catholic Education Week and on other occasions, the Bishops pay tribute to all staff working in Catholic schools for their great efforts.   We recognise that you are under great pressure, that you have many priorities (not always of your own choosing) and that you are expected to deliver results of various kinds.
 
School Inspections:
Under such pressure, it is remarkable that - again and again - so many Catholic schools are praised by Her Majesty s Inspectors for outstanding achievements and for excellence in so many aspects of provision.   In this school session alone, Catholic schools have been praised not only for outstanding leadership, but for the promotion of a strong sense of tolerance and inclusion and for distinction in promoting equality, diversity and anti-sectarianism.   Our schools are frequently praised for their commitment to promote global awareness and to support the needs of developing countries.   One of my joys as Cardinal on visiting a great variety of countries abroad, is to hear teachers and pupils speak of our schools as wonderful, helpful neighbours in our global villages. In reporting on many of our schools, HMI Inspectors comment very positively on the strong sense of Gospel Values and on the promotion of faith communities, where schools work in partnership with local parishes, being supported by local clergy and religious, and providing good opportunities for daily prayers, liturgies and Masses.
Media Coverage:
It is little wonder, then, that occasional articles appear in some newspapers highlighting this significant pattern - the excellence of performance in so many Catholic schools.   What is remarkable is that - in the face of a mountain of evidence provided by HMI who are independent assessors - we are still more likely to read newspaper articles and letters which condemn Catholic schools as being the major contributory factor (if not the root cause) of sectarianism in Scotland.   It is disappointing that our media outlets seem to provide disproportionate space for the expression of the old rhetoric of suspicion and hostility when there is so much ˜good news which could be aired and written.
We were given some spectacular examples of this imbalance in the media coverage of Catholic schools when First Minister Alex Salmond gave the Cardinal Winning Lecture at the end of Catholic Education Week in February this year.   The week began inauspiciously when Michael McGrath was invited onto a Radio Scotland programme to take part in a discussion about schools.   He was assured that the issue of Catholic Education Week would be covered in the item, but, in fact, it was all about a proposal to create a shared campus school in East Ayrshire.   As soon as it became clear in the course of the broadcast that there was no great dispute between the Church and the Council, the BBC could not finish the item quickly enough.
Later that week BBC Newsnight Scotland ran a garbled item which showed no understanding of Catholic schools and their contribution to Scottish society.   It would make a fascinating case study in a Media Studies course - of how not to do it.
By the weekend, when the First Minister of Scotland was due to deliver a lecture entitled ˜Celebrating Catholic Education , you might have expected the media to be interested, if not enthusiastic.   With their production centres just a few miles from the University campus, neither BBC nor STV managed to send a camera crew to cover the lecture.   (Meantime BBC had sent two camera crews at inordinate expense to the island of St Kilda where a trawler had run aground and there were fears that rats from the sinking ship would destroy nesting seabirds.   It later turned out that there were no rats!)
Even if our TV companies didn t manage to travel to Glasgow University, most of the Scottish Sunday broadsheets covered the lecture. However, the Sunday Times could only find space for 47 words devoted to the event.   This is the same Sunday Times who - just over a year previously - had tried over a number of weeks to stir up a ˜national debate over the future of Scotland s Catholic schools;   the same Sunday Times who were prepared to feature extensively the words of a few ex-politicians who had suddenly discovered their principled objections to Catholic schools;   the same Sunday Times who failed to publish any views which might offer some counter-balance to the bias of the other contributors.
Such determined and blatant bias is a sad phenomenon to which we have become all too accustomed in Scotland.   What we are less used to is the phenomenon of a politician actually speaking out in favour of Catholic schools.   Well, this year, in the lecture given by Scotland s First Minister we could not have asked for a clearer advocacy of Catholic schools. Those of you who were present were probably as astonished as I was to hear such words of praise and admiration. Not that anything he said was untrue or exaggerated.   It was just astonishing that he was prepared to turn out at a public event, during Catholic Education Week to celebrate Catholic Education in Scotland. Scottish politicians don t do that sort of thing!
Neither do they express admiration for the contribution of Scotland s Catholic schools, for their work in endowing children with a strong moral foundation, with a positive and distinctive identity, with a keen sense of personal responsibility and the common good, with a strong commitment to charity, and with a belief in the principle that each of us can and should make a positive contribution to our world.
But Alex Salmond did all of that.   And I expect him to do it again.   And I call on the leaders of Scotland s other political parties to do likewise.   I challenge them - quite simply - to tell the truth about Catholic schools in Scotland: to acknowledge their considerable contribution to Scotland s welfare, to recognise their distinctive provision, to praise their achievements and to pledge their support. In the First Minister s own words, It s time to celebrate Catholic education in Scotland ; the time for grudging acceptance and outright hostility is in the past.
 
Equality:
 
Returning to the theme of your conference - Equality and Values - I want to take this chance to make something very clear.   We in the Catholic Church are absolutely committed to Equality.   We recognise the equal dignity and worth of all humans, because we believe that we are all made in God s image and likeness. This belief provides the moral foundation of any decent society which values and respects human life. Sometimes we are misrepresented as being dismissive of people whose views we do not share.   Or we are accused of treating them unfairly because we don t accept their point of view.   This is a basic and serious error of logic.   Equality is not synonymous with uniformity.   We are all entitled to our own views, our values and our beliefs; and we are equally entitled to express these, even when they are at odds with the views we hear expressed by others.  
In this country - and in Europe more widely - there is a very strong Equality and Diversity agenda which now underpins social policy.   Now it is absolutely right that the dignity of human life is recognised and that people s rights are protected. However, sometimes Equality and Diversity is used as a badge of convenience to gain recognition for particular interests.   The desire for Equality has been used by some as an instrument of intolerance, to hinder the expression of beliefs which are at odds with their own views. On the other hand Diversity seems only to be valued by some when it protects particular interests.
The contradictions are well exemplified in the debate over Catholic schools in Scotland.   Some argue that the provision of Catholic schools is unfair because it endows Catholics with a privilege not shared by others.   Of course, they show their ignorance of the Law when they fail to understand that any religious body in Scotland can establish schools in the interest of any denomination.   Indeed, the Episcopalian Church still has a small number of such denominational schools.   Some members of the Muslim community wish to make a case for state-funded Muslim schools on the same equitable basis.
In the case of Catholic schools, significant numbers of parents in this country freely choose to send their children to Catholic schools. This is a right enshrined in Scots Law but also recognised in European Law - the right to have their children educated in accordance with their religious, philosophical and moral convictions .   This is a perfectly legitimate expression of diversity.   Yet it is a freedom which some people want to remove - supposedly in the interests of Equality .
 
 
Values:
 
Such muddled thinking is also prevalent today when people talk about values, the other aspect of your conference theme.   It appears that some people want to lay claim to any particular personal preference or the latest trend and label it as a value which deserves respect and legitimacy.   The late Pope John Paul II used to speak of the crisis of values which has overtaken Western civilisation, where people have abandoned any notion of absolute truth.   Pope Benedict XVI has spoken of the modern phenomenon of the dictatorship of relativism where people demand the right to justify any moral choice based on their individual human rights.   In this way, any action can be justified if it might potentially - in some distant future - lead to the possibility of improving some aspect of human life.  
As Christians, we are fortunate to have a moral framework - expressed in Sacred Scripture and in Sacred Tradition - which guides our words and actions.   The Ten Commandments provide clear guidance on right and wrong.   The Beatitudes express, through paradox and oxymoron, the values which Christ espouses for us.   These Gospel values are unconventional; they run counter to the trends of society.   Jesus uses them to challenge our priorities, to help us to learn that, in order to be happy - to be Blessed - we must be peace-loving, merciful, pure of heart and meek.  
 
We are supported in our efforts to live by these values in the teachings of the Church about Virtues - those personal habits which each of us needs to develop if we are to live moral lives, doing good for ourselves and for others.   The teaching of the Catechism on virtues such as faith, hope, love, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance is rich in its wisdom and demands our careful consideration.
 
For this reason the Bishops were delighted to welcome the CEC s publication of the ˜Values for Life resource, a package designed specifically to help teachers to understand values and virtues.   We recommend that you engage teachers fully in making good and considered use of ˜Values for Life over the next few years in particular.   I hope that it will feature in your programmes of staff development and in your school improvement plans.   It will be of vital support to you as you plan for new curricular structures in the light of ˜Curriculum for Excellence .   It spells out for you how and where you can deliver the values which are supposed to be at the heart of young people s learning - the values of Wisdom, Justice, Compassion and Integrity.
 
How wonderful it would be if every Scottish school articulated its curriculum and developed its planning with particular reference to these values.   This is precisely what the Bishops expect of every Catholic school in Scotland and we look forward to seeing explicit reference to values in school handbooks, in development plans and in report on standards and quality.  
 
Called to Love:
 
Another CEC resource which has been provided recently also supports you in articulating a distinctively Christian understanding of life.   ˜Called to Love provides you with a coherent package of advice and teaching materials, built on a Catholic Christian vision of human love and relationships.   In Pope Benedict XVI s first encyclical Deus Caritas Est, he wrote:  
Today the word love is so tarnished, so spoiled and abused, that one is almost afraid to pronounce it with one s lips. . . We cannot simply abandon it, we must take it up again, purify it and give back to it its original splendour.
˜Called to Love is our humble attempt to re-claim the central place of Love in human lives.  
 
Of course, I well understand that teaching young people about Relationships is not without difficulty today.   We live in an age where young people seem to have been abandoned to find their own way through the moral maze.   We allow them to be assailed by sexually explicit imagery and stark messages which promote casual sex as a recreational pastime.   We condone immoral and sometimes illegal sexual activity, preferring to encourage harm-reduction policies and deluding ourselves about safe-sex.   And the statistics tell the tragic story of lives blighted by increasing sexual infections, unwanted teenage pregnancies and abortions.  
 
Recent research carried out for the Scottish Government s Health Promotions Agency, NHS Health Scotland cast serious doubts on the quality and effectiveness of sex and relationships education in the non-denominational sector. There is no question that underlying this failure is the absence of a moral framework through which the subject can be addressed. This is in stark contrast to the approach taken by ˜Called to Love .
 
The Bishops of Scotland commend ˜Called to Love for its efforts in this difficult field of sexual education.   The programme offers a distinctive vision to which young people can aspire - a vision of lives created and growing in love, living for love, being faithful and committed to God s call to love and being responsible in love.   This is another example of how Catholic schools are distinctive in the vision which we offer.   We are promoting responsible behaviour and we are providing factual information to young people but we are doing so in an unambiguous moral context.       All young people have a right to learn about love and to learn how to love.  
 
When I last spoke to this conference, some three years ago - in May 2005 - I promised you the support of the Church in the provision of resources in this area.   I hope that you will agree that ˜Called to Love will most effectively support teachers and parents in helping young people to understand their vocation to love.   I thank you for your efforts to enrol staff in the various training days which have been offered so far.   I thank you for your commitment to purchase materials for staff, pupils and parents.   I also thank all those who have contributed to the development of such a fine resource.
 
Through the offices of the Apostolic Nunciature, His Excellency Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, the Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Institutions, Seminaries and Institutes of Study, was informed of the recent publication of ˜Called to Love , produced by the Scottish Catholic Education Service.   Archbishop Bruguès asked the Nuncio to convey to our Bishops Conference the commendation of his dicastery of SCES for their commitment in formulating these texts in light of Gospel values and for taking into account the ages and levels of maturity of the children concerned.   He also expressed gratitude to the Bishops Conference of Scotland for our endeavours in promoting Catholic teaching on this delicate issue.   The Congregation thinks that these publications will serve as reliable resources for instilling and upholding the dignity and gift of life in Scottish Catholic youth.   And while conveying the sentiments of the Archbishop, our own Apostolic Nuncio also offers all who collaborated in that recent project, his own congratulations.
 
   
 
Religious Education:
 
I understand that, later this month, details will be published of proposed learning outcomes and experiences which should be provided through religious education in Catholic schools. The publication of these proposals will provide an excellent opportunity for you to reflect upon the centrality of religious education in the life of your school.   The proposals will also challenge you and your colleagues to reflect upon your own personal understanding of the Gospel message and of how it can be communicated to children and young people.   I encourage you to engage fully in this work and to involve your colleagues in it as fully as possible.  
 
The development of particular proposals for religious education in Catholic schools has not been uncomplicated.   There were significant pressures to agree a common framework for religious education in all schools.   There were also pressures to teach non-faith stances as comprehensively as we would wish to teach Catholic Christianity. There are strong voices claiming that, out of respect for people of other faiths and none, it is time for schools to be prohibited from favouring any particular faith, or, indeed from teaching religious education at all.
 
So, it is vital that all Catholic schools consider these R.E. proposals in detail; that staff engage in opportunities to develop their own understanding of faith and of how it can be transmitted to young people today; that school leaders are faithful to their mission to catechize and evangelise.   The proposals published by Curriculum for Excellence will be accompanied by supplementary guidance published by SCES.   This guidance will provide additional information about the nature of religious education in our schools.   There will also be opportunities for teachers to meet and discuss these proposals and to consider the resources which can deliver the vision of faith which is being promoted.
 
Earlier this session, the Vatican s Congregation for Catholic Education published a document called ˜Educating Together in Catholic Schools .   This document highlighted the need for Catholic schools to provide young people with the experience of being members of a community of faith, in the midst of a world which is increasingly diverse. It called for education in communion , in which young people have a strong experience of sharing, are encouraged to search for truth and meaning, to come to know themselves and to recognise the signs through which God leads them to the fullness of existence.
 
Of course, we understand that living in communion is not in any way an exclusive activity.   It is welcoming to all people, encouraging them to know that God loves them.   It encourages all to see, in the light of the Gospel, what is positive in the world, as well as what needs to be transformed.   It helps to form people in such a way as to respect the identity, culture, history, religion and especially the sufferings and needs of others, conscious that we are all really responsible for all , as the Vatican document says.
 
This is the vision - of life, of faith and of education - which I hope to see at the heart of the Curriculum for Excellence proposals.  
 
Final remarks:
 
Since May 2005, when I last spoke to you, there have been some significant changes to the leadership profile of our secondary schools.   Quite a number of well-kent faces have been replaced by fresher faces - some only very recently. And by the next time I speak to you, I suspect, even more changes will have taken place.   I want to put on record my appreciation of all those teachers who have retired after giving years of dedicated service to Catholic education.   May God bless them and reward them for their goodness.  
 
To those of you who are here today - and particularly to those of you who are relatively new to these positions of great responsibility - I offer you my continuing support in your work.   I promise you the full support of the Church, particularly through the work of our own Education Service and through that of the Diocesan R.E. Advisors.     I do not underestimate the impact which your personal commitment and example can have, not only on young people but on your colleagues and on parents. As witnesses to faith, you are living signs of hope in a world which, at times, seems to have abandoned hope. In living your vocation, in leading a community of faith inspired by the Gospel, you will provide others with opportunities for living in communion with God and with each other.  
 
May God bless each of you in your work. May we continue, in the words of the First Minister at that recent Catholic Education Week Conference, to which I have already referred:   Celebrate Catholic Education in Scotland .

Subscribe to Updates

Subscribe to:
Like   Back to Top   Seen 139 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

Subscribe to News updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS RSS

‹ Return to News

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Bishops urge politicians to put human life at centre of Scotland’s political discourse

| 6 days ago | Blogging

Sunday 11 April 2021 Bishops urge politicians to put human life at centre of Scotland’s political discourse.   Scotland’s Catholic Bishops have released a pre-election Pastoral letter, urging Catholics to play their part “in putting human life and the inviolable dignity of the human person at the centre of Scotland’s political discourse” and to warn politicians against imposing “unjust restrictions on free speech, free expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion”.   In a 1,000-word letter distributed online and via Scotland’s 500 Catholic parishes, the Bishops ask Catholic voters to give consideration to six key areas, when selecting a candidate:   Beginning and end of life Family and Work Poverty, Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Environment Free speech, free expression, and freedom of thought, conscience and religion Catholic schools   Pointing out that “society relies on the building block of the family to exist and flourish” the bishops add; “government should respond to this reality with policies creating economic and fiscal advantages for families with children.”   Voters are also urged to visit the website rcpolitics.org and to use the resources there to help them consider a range of election issues and to question candidates.     ENDS   Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291 pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org     Note to Editors:   The Election resources are available here:  https://rcpolitics.org/scottish-parliament-election-2021/   The full text of the Pastoral Letter is shown below:       Scottish Parliament Election 2021 - Putting Human Life and  Dignity at the Centre   A letter from the Catholic Bishops of Scotland   Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,   This election presents us with an opportunity to play our part in putting human life and the inviolable dignity of the human person at the centre of Scotland’s political discourse. As Catholics we have a duty: to share the Gospel and to help form the public conscience on key moral issues. It is a duty of both faith and citizenship.  This election is an opportunity to be the effective witness our Baptism calls us to be.  The new parliament and government will be tasked with leading the recovery from the damage wrought by the current health crisis and to tackle the significant impact it has had on many aspects of life including health care, mental health and wellbeing, religious freedom, and care for the poor. It must also build on the positives arising from the Pandemic, including caring for the most vulnerable, and a renewed sense of respect for human life, human dignity, and the value of community.   These are some of the issues you may want to consider in the forthcoming election:   Beginning and end of life It is the duty of parliamentarians to uphold the most basic and fundamental human right to life. Elected representatives ought to recognise the existence of human life from the moment of conception and be committed to the protection of human life at every stage. Caring for the unborn and their mothers is a fundamental measure of a caring and compassionate society; a society which puts human dignity at the centre.   We ought to be mindful of a further attempt to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland, likely to happen in this parliament. Legalising assisted suicide or euthanasia suggests that some lives are not worth living, contrary to the Christian belief that every life has equal dignity and value. It is incumbent upon our parliamentarians to show compassion for the sick and dying. This is not achieved by assisted suicide or euthanasia but by ensuring support is provided through caring and attentive politics, including investment in palliative care.   Family and Work Society relies on the building block of the family to exist and flourish. The love of man and woman in marriage and openness to new life is th...

Return to Worship in time for Easter

| 01st March 2021 | Blogging

Return to Worship in time for Easter 1 March 2021 Responding to last week’s statement on the reopening of Places of Worship by the First Minister, the Catholic Bishops of Scotland have issued a statement welcoming the move and calling for a removal of the cap, which limits the number of people who can attend. Instead, the bishops maintain congregation size should be calculated in accordance with the size of each church, a system similar to that used in the retail sector, which still maintains social distancing regulations.   The full text of the statement is shown below. ENDS Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291 pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org     As Scotland’s Catholic bishops, we welcome the recent announcement by the First Minister foreseeing a return to our churches for the most important celebration of the liturgical year at Easter. We also welcome the recognition of the status of public worship implicit in this decision. The Catholic Community recognises the seriousness of the pandemic and is committed to working with others to avoid the spreading of infection. At the same time, we anticipate ongoing dialogue with the Scottish Government regarding the requirement of a numerical “cap” on the number of worshippers. As we continue to observe social distancing  and the protocols on infection control and hygiene formulated by the Bishops’ Conference working group under the leadership of the former Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns, we maintain that it would be more appropriate for each church building to accommodate a congregation in proportion to its size rather than on the basis of an imposed number. We echo here the timely words Pope Francis addressed to the representatives of countries to the Holy See on the 8th February 2021: Even as we seek ways to protect human lives from the spread of the virus, we cannot view the spiritual and moral dimension of the human person as less important than physical health. The opening of churches is a sign that the sacrifices endured so far are bearing fruit and gives us hope and encouragement to persevere. We pray that the Risen Christ, for whom we long during this holy season of Lent, will bless and bring healing to our nation.  ...

Church leaders urge withdraw of controversial section of Hate Crime Bill

| 12th February 2021 | Blogging

Church leaders urge withdraw of controversial section of Hate Crime Bill to allow “adequate consideration”   Friday 12 February   An unprecedented alliance of Catholic and Evangelical church leaders are urging the Scottish Government to drop part of its proposed Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill to allow time for “detailed consideration of crucial provisions.” The Bill, which would potentially criminalise any criticism of Transgender ideology has been criticised by the Catholic Church, the Free Church of Scotland and the Evangelical Alliance.   In a letter addressed today (Friday 12 February) to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf, the church leaders call for greater protections for freedom of expression and say:   “We believe that people should be completely free to disagree with our faith in any way, including mocking and ridiculing us. We are convinced that our faith is true and has a sufficient evidential basis to withstand any criticism, we therefore welcome open debate.”    By contrast, concerns are raised that any disagreement with or criticism of Transgender identity could fall foul of the new law, if passed in its current form. The church leaders point out, that “Transgender identity has been subject of extensive and emotional public discussion. Such free discussion and criticism of views is vital as society wrestles with these ideas.” They warn however, that they “cannot accept that any position or opinion at variance with the proposition that sex (or gender) is fluid and changeable should not be heard.”   The letter marks the first time Catholic, Free Church and Evangelical Alliance leaders have jointly petitioned the Scottish Government and sought a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice. Supporting “open and honest debate” the letter ends with an assertion, that “A right to claim that binary sex does not exist or is fluid must be matched with a right to disagree with that opinion; and protection from prosecution for holding it.” As well as a warning that: ”The Parliament now has approximately four weeks to complete the passage of the bill. This is extraordinarily tight and risks inadequate and ill-thought through legislation being passed. No workable solutions to issues of freedom of expression have so far been suggested. If no such solutions can be found we hope the Scottish Government will now consider withdrawing the stirring up hatred offences in Part 2 of the bill to allow more detailed consideration and discussion and to ensure freedom of expression provisions, which enshrine free and open debate, are afforded the scrutiny they require.”   ENDS   Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 5 St. Vincent Place Glasgow G1 2DH 0141 221 116807968 122291 pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org     Notes to Editors:   The full text of the letter is shown below. Humza Yousaf MSP Cabinet Secretary for Justice The Scottish Government St. Andrew's House Edinburgh EH1 3DG   Friday 12th February 2021   Dear Mr Yousaf,     Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill – Stage 2 amendments   We are writing to you as representatives of three communities of churches in Scotland in relation to the progress of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) bill at Stage 2 and to ask if we may be able to meet with you in the coming days in relation to this.   As you know we have engaged extensively throughout the bill process including a number of meetings with you and your officials, and all gave oral evidence to the Justice Committee on 10th November. In all of this we have sought to play a constructive role. We recognise the sensitivities involved in this bill, have sought consensus, and looked to help play our part in protecting vulnerable communities from hate crime whilst at the same time protecting fundamental freedoms on which we all depend for our common life. Our approach has never been to just narrowly consider...

FUNERAL MASS FOR BISHOP VINCENT LOGAN 26 JANUARY 2021

| 26th January 2021 | Blogging

FUNERAL MASS FOR BISHOP VINCENT LOGAN 26/01/2021 It seems almost a cliche to say it, but every human person is a mystery. It’s not surprising though, as it is in God ‘we live and move and have our being’ and he himself is the ultimate mystery, and we have our origin in God. The Catechism reminds us that ‘we are most like unto God in our soul’, and since each one of us is unique in every way, to say we are a mystery seems almost like an understatement. And this mysteriousness is at so many levels. From the biological point of view, we are a mystery because we are formed by the mixing of our parents’ genes and by the environment in which we are planted. From a psychological point of view, we are formed by our parents by our families, by our siblings, friends and relations, by the circumstances of our lives and our loves, our knocks and our disappointments. Most of us have had the good fortune to have been conceived in love and nurtured and nourished in love. Others, though, regrettably haven’t had that great start. And often, for those who are fortunate, there is one great thread of God’s goodness that powerfully shapes us. For most of us, this powerful goodness originates in the Faith passed on to us from our parents, a thread which runs throughout our lives and more than any other influence, arguably, shapes and guides the direction of our lives. Also, for those of us fortunate enough to be baptised, as well as inheriting the common humanity into which we are created in the image and likeness of God, our baptism in Christ also confers on us divine filiation - sonship and daughtership in God - enabling us, as St Paul says, to call God, Abba, our Father. And we spend the rest of our lives on earth finding out what are the consequences for us of this wonderful gift: we never stop learning how to become a better son or a daughter of God. All of this is true of Vincent Paul Logan. Vincent was born on 30th June 1941 to Joseph and Elizabeth Logan (nee Flannigan) into a committed Bathgate Catholic family and - like all Bathgate Catholic bairns – Vincent, together with their other four sons, inherited a strong faith from them. Of Vincent’s brothers James, John, William and Joseph. Only James now is still alive. Later also, Vincent’s four married brothers’ spouses (Esther, Maeve, Grace and Celia) and subsequently their families – nephews (Vincent and Joseph here today), Gerard and Edward, also Paul, now deceased, who like Bishop Vincent, tried his vocation also at Drygrange Seminary, and nieces Elizabeth, Margaret, Lisa and Anne-Marie - All members of this great extended family had their influence on Bishop Vincent throughout his life, just as today they mourn for him, assisting him by their prayers and Masses on the cleansing road to the Heavenly Kingdom. But for a baptised Catholic man, who has in addition received a vocation from the Lord to priesthood, it is also his special relationships, outside the family - school friends, close friends met on life’s journey, fellow seminarians, priest friends and the pastoral and personal relationships a priest makes through his pastoral work, also continued to shape Vincent, up until almost the moment of his death. From his earliest days, Vincent Paul Logan wanted to be a priest. His desire to attend and serve Mass daily, as a young boy with his mother and brothers after their dad went off to work, of course pointed him in the direction of a vocation to priesthood. As a committed Altar Boy, Vincent’s first desire to put himself forward as a candidate for priesthood resulted, as he says himself, in ‘being chased’ in 1952 by Canon Davitt his parish priest because he was too young - only 11. A year later 1 though, in 1953, he went to Blairs, our National Junior Seminary, at 12 and his journey to priesthood began in earnest. Drygrange, the seminary for the Archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh was the next step towards priesth...