Archbishop warns politicians against attempts to redefine nature

In a strongly worded sermon, delivered in the presence of representatives of Scottish civil and political life and the Papal Ambassador to Britain, Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow will warn against changes in the law designed to recreate society and redefine nature .

In his sermon to mark the seventh anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the Archbishop   will echo the Pope s words at Westminster Hall in which the Pontiff warned against the dangers of accepting the ideas of those who would exclude Christianity from having any influence in public life.  

The Archbishop will say: Those voices are growing ever louder in our country, that attempted marginalisation is becoming ever more acute and we are witnessing the transformation of tolerance into a kind of tyranny in which religious views are the only ones which seem unworthy of respect and acceptance.

And he will warn that any legislation to allow same-sex marriage will have negative consequences - criticising politicians who seem ready to redefine marriage without any reference to children, or to the natural law written on the heart of mankind, putting the claim of ˜equality and diversity on a higher level than faith and reason, and ultimately asserting the moral equivalence between marriage and same sex unions.

Our society will descend further into ethical confusion and moral disintegration the more that those in Government and the judiciary slip society s moorings from the capstans of virtue.

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

Notes to Editors:

¢      The full text of the Archbishop s sermon is shown below.  

¢      It will be delivered at 11.30am at St Mary s Cathedral, Edinburgh, on Sunday March 25 in the presence of all Scotland s Catholic Bishops, representatives of civil and public life and the Apostolic Nuncio to the UK, Archbishop Antonio Mennini.

¢      Archbishop Conti will not be available for interview either before or after the sermon.



Mass for Anniversary of Pope s Election “ Sermon by Most Rev Mario Conti, Archbishop of Glasgow

Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified  

With these words Jesus responded to Andrew and Philip who came to tell him that among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks who said they should like to see Jesus.

The reply of Jesus, at first sight, seems inconsequential. Was Jesus ready to meet the Greeks?

However, as we ponder it, there are two possible interpretations of the Lord s reply, which would make his answer relevant to the request. The first contains a warning that the message of his ministry may not be what the Greeks expected and may contradict their philosophical mindset. For what Jesus said was: Anyone who loves his life loses it .   He illuminates this sentence with a striking example: Unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies it remains a single grain, but if it dies it yields a rich harvest.

Is Jesus warning the Greeks that they would find the cross a madness?   St Paul, after his visit to Athens, could write in his first letter to the Corinthians that we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.

We recall that Peter himself found the suggestion of Our Lord s death at the hands of his enemies as an obstacle . He had advised his master that it must not be like this, only to receive that memorable rebuke, Get behind me Satan! (Mark 8, 32-33)

On the other hand this chance meeting with those beyond the physical and cultural boundaries of Israel gave Jesus the opportunity to point to the universality of his mission: When I am lifted up from the earth I shall draw all men to myself.

Being lifted up, in this context, is clearly a reference to his death on the cross, as the evangelist notes.

Was Jesus therefore addressing his disciples and indicating that the interest of the Greeks was consonant with his mission, Jesus seeing beyond this chance encounter, to the way in which, in the future through Greek thought and over Roman roads, the Gospel message would be carried and interpreted for countless people?

At any rate if Jesus met those Greeks “ and there is no suggestion in the text that he did not “ the message would be uncompromising. The cross was central. It will be by way of the cross, contradicting as it might seem human wisdom, that the Father s name is glorified.

The writer to the Hebrews, in the extract read as our second lesson, provides the key, the hermeneutic to interpret what Jesus was saying: During his life on earth Christ offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears to the One (his Father) who had the power to save Him out of death, and he submitted so humbly (to His Father s will) that His prayer was heard.

This was the sacrifice which sealed the new covenant, prophesied by Jeremiah, as we read in our first scriptural passage: It is the Lord who speaks ... I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel, but not like the one I made with their ancestors.

In what ways was this new covenant to differ from the old we are free to ask? The reality will replace the prefigurement; the one who represents all mankind carrying the burden of our sins, sacrifices himself instead of by the vicarious offering of animals; and the new law which this covenant inaugurates will not be found inscribed on tablets of stone, but on the human heart:  

Deep within them I will plant my law, writing it on their hearts.

What then is the place of law in human society “ in that society which God wills and Jesus came to establish?

St Paul was at pains, in his letter to the Romans, to state and demonstrate that salvation did not come through law, even the Law of Moses, but through faith in Christ Jesus. And in his letter to the Galatians, he says: The law was thus put in charge of us until Christ should come, when we might be justified through faith. (Gal: 3 21-24)

I am not intent on giving you a treatise on law and faith, even were I well qualified to do so. I simply want to posit the question: What, in our society, once said to be Christian and now in many respects post-Christian, do we expect of law “ I mean positive law, not that law written on our hearts which we might describe as natural law. What is the role of law in our society?  

It is, I suppose as it has always been to defend the inalienable rights of its citizens; to ensure appropriate regulations for the management of the economy; to ensure that the sick and the poor are cared for; to provide universal education and so forth.  

It is certainly not the role of law to recreate our society according to passing fashions and ideologies, nor to redefine nature whether in terms of persons and their rights or its natural institutions.   We live in a culture of human rights which appear to be ever more in need of codification and protection. And I wonder why; I do not think society of itself ought to be more needful than before of law and laws, unless, of course, we can no longer rely on the generality of citizens to act virtuously and according to conscience.

Governments seem to think it necessary to cover almost every aspect of human behaviour with law, and consequently to require the judiciary to be engaged in interpreting and applying these laws, leaving me with the impression that those preoccupied in this manner feel that unless human behaviour is so minutely governed, society will dissolve into moral chaos.   And I wonder whether there is perhaps reason for such fear?

But it should not be so: I will plant my law deep within them, writing it on their hearts.   That is what a Christian society aims towards, and what the Church offers the body politic “ providing for those who absorb its message, education in virtue and formation in conscience.

St Paul wrote to the Corinthians: I do speak words of wisdom, but not a wisdom belonging to this present age or to its governing powers already in decline; I speak God s hidden wisdom, His secret purpose framed from the very beginning to bring us to our destined glory.

Her Majesty the Queen, in her first formal meeting to mark her jubilee, hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, remarked on the gift which people of faith brought to society and was specifically referring to the wisdom inherited not only among those who follow Christ but in the other faith communities too. The gift of wisdom which faith brings to public life was the core also of the Holy Father s message during his visit to the United Kingdom in 2010.  

He memorably said at Westminster Hall: Religion is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation.

He added: In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalisation of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance.
There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere.

One cannot help remark that those voices are growing ever louder in our country, that attempted marginalisation is becoming ever more acute and we are witnessing the transformation of tolerance into a kind of tyranny in which religious views are the only ones which seem unworthy of respect and acceptance.

Perhaps I may be forgiven “ as I come towards the end of my own active episcopate “ for quoting what I said in a homily I gave 10 years ago on the eve of my enthronement as Archbishop of Glasgow to the Church representatives and civic guests who attended the event ...  

Referring to the changes facing society I said: I hope we will be allowed to make our own contribution to these analyses and syntheses. I would like to think that the voice of the Church, articulated through its leaders, will not be
disregarded as a voice from the distant past, as if the past had no relevance to the present, but is heeded as a witness to a tradition of wisdom and a expertise gained over 2000 years of dealing with humanity.

That remains my hope.

Governments which fail to take into account the wisdom that is handed down generation to generation in communities of faith or fail to underscore the right and duty of following informed conscience on the part of citizens will, it seems, inevitably find themselves attempting to be wise by creating ever more legislation and requiring judges to interpret it according to the mores of the day.

But how can you legislate to ensure heartless opportunists do not rob the backpack of an already assaulted young man whose bike has been stolen? “ as in the mid summer London riots. Or at the other end of the scale, how can you require a judge to state where exactly the right of conscientious objection ceases in regard to what Lady Smith referred to as its manifestations , as in the case of the two senior Catholic midwives who were apparently expected to act contrary to their own vocation and convictions, to supervise, delegate and support staff involved in the abortion of babies?

Perhaps with some consistency the same authorities seem ready to redefine marriage without any reference to children, or to the natural law written on the heart of mankind, putting the claim of equality and diversity on a higher level than faith and reason, and ultimately asserting the moral equivalence between marriage and same sex unions, contrary to the virtue of chastity.

Our society will descend further into ethical confusion and moral disintegration the more that those in Government and the judiciary slip society s moorings from the capstans of virtue.  

The Church speaks of natural law “ a recognition of what we owe one another in our shared humanity, when in Pope St Gregory s memorable phrase, we see life whole   Or more to the point of today s lesson, when we recognise the law written by the finger of a loving God on our very hearts by the grace of Him who said: Now sentence is being passed on this world; now the prince of this world is to be overthrown. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself. (John, 12:33)

Subscribe to Updates

Subscribe to:
Like   Back to Top   Seen 145 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

BCOS Meeting 7 September 2020 

| 7 days ago | Blogging

BCOS Meeting 7 September 2020     Conference Report:     The meeting was held over two sessions via Teams. All members of the Bishops’ Conference participated. Sir Harry Burns contributed for a part of the morning session which addressed in detail the implications of the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions on places of worship.    In his contribution, Sir Harry advised that the existing limits on maximum attendance of 50 for Mass and 20 for Weddings and Funerals were without scientific foundation and he could see no logical reason for them. Following a wide-ranging discussion on this, it was clear that this perspective was unanimously held. Sir Harry advised that he would raise the matter with officials and ministers in the coming days and report back to the conference. (Other representatives of the Conference have raised similar points). He also spoke of the possible trajectory of the virus over the next few months, advising that the concerns of the Government’s scientific advisors, were that a rise in positive tests among younger people, who are unlikely to require hospitalisation, at present could in the coming weeks spread to the elderly and vulnerable, with serious consequences for the NHS. He updated the bishops on progress being made towards a vaccine and suggested the timescales involved were likely to mean a viable vaccine could be available by December for use early in 2021.  The bishops thanked Sir Harry for his contributions and advice.    Archbishop Cushley updated the conference on the ongoing discussions about the disposal of assets belonging to ACTS. He described three options which had been tabled at a previous meeting of the successor body to ACTS, the Scottish Christian Leaders Forum (SCLF) after some debate a fourth option was proposed and received wide support, it was that any remaining funds be dispersed on a pro rata basis to the founding members of ACTS. Archbishop Cushley undertook to take this position back to the SCLF.    A discussion on a number of liturgical matters followed, led by Bishop Gilbert and based upon his “Report on Matters Liturgical to the Bishops Conference” which covered: The final stage of proof-reading of the Ordo, the proposal that St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, the first canonised Australian saint, be kept as an optional memorial in the Scottish Proper of Saints, the proposal that, given the devotion in Scotland, the optional memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, 11 February, be raised to the status of an obligatory memorial. The third change proposed to the Scottish Proper of Saints was the insertion of St John Henry Newman as an optional memorial. All these changes were endorsed.    The conference heard that the next meeting of the National Liturgical Commission will be in the second half of October and the next meeting of ICEL was scheduled for 8-12 February 2021.           Bishop Gilbert proposed that a renewed emphasis on the Eucharist would be opportune. This was agreed with. There was discussion over the modality, timing and preparatory work required for this. A discussion followed on the timing and the detail of such a move with one of the bishops agreeing to prepare a basic initial text on this subject.    Bishop Keenan presented a report on Seminary Provision proposing a range of options to be researched in terms of viability as serious options for the formation of men for the Priesthood. At the November BCOS Meeting each option would be discussed, in the light of the information provided, with a view to discerning the 3 most viable options. There would then be consultation on these options before a final decision is made by the Bishops in February/March 2021. Bishop Keenan also presented a report on Transitional Deacons and led a lively discussion on aspects of the model of priestly formation proposed by the Congregation for the Clergy and the recent Ratio.    On behalf of the Pastoral Ministry Group, Michael McGrath present...

Statement on nuclear weapons from the Bishops of Scotland and England & Wales

| 04th August 2020 | Blogging

Statement on nuclear weapons from the Bishops of Scotland and England & Wales Tuesday 4 August 2020   During his historic visit to Japan last year, Pope Francis declared that “the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possession of atomic weapons is immoral”. Seventy-five years on from the unprecedented and horrific destruction of life at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we are called to reflect prayerfully upon the UK’s own possession of nuclear weapons.   Pope Francis reiterated that the threat of mutual destruction, the massive loss of innocent lives and the annihilation of any future for our common home, is completely incompatible with our efforts to build peace. “If we really want to build a more just and secure society, we must let the weapons fall from our hands”, said the Pope.   He also reminded us that it is unjust to continue squandering precious resources on manufacturing, maintaining and upgrading ever more destructive technology. The cost of nuclear weapons should be measured not only in the lives destroyed through their use, but also the suffering of the poorest and most vulnerable people, who could have benefited were such vast sums of public money invested in the Common Good of society instead. The Scottish and English and Welsh bishops' conferences have in the past called on the UK government to forsake its own nuclear weapons.    We therefore recommit ourselves to the abolition of these weapons and to the Holy Father’s call to pray each day “for the conversion of hearts and for the triumph of a culture of life, reconciliation and fraternity. A fraternity that can recognize and respect diversity in the quest for a common destiny.”    +William Nolan,  Bishop of Galloway and on behalf of the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.   +Declan Lang,  Bishop of Clifton and Chairman of the international Affairs Department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales    ENDS   Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291 pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org  ...

Freedom to disagree must be protected, say Scotland’s Bishops

| 29th July 2020 | Blogging

New Hate Crime Bill – the freedom to disagree must be protected, say Scotland’s Bishops Wednesday 29 July 2020The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s new Hate Crime and Public Order Bill. In a submission to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee the Conference has stated that any new law must be ‘carefully weighed against fundamental freedoms, such as the right to free speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of thought, conscience and religion.’ The bill proposes to modernise, consolidate and extend hate crime legislation in Scotland, including introducing a new offence of stirring up hatred, possession of inflammatory material, and new protection of freedom of expression provisions in relation to religion and sexual orientation.  Commenting on the submission, the Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, Anthony Horan said;“Whilst acknowledging that stirring up of hatred is morally wrong and supporting moves to discourage and condemn such behaviour the bishops have expressed concerns about the lack of clarity around definitions and a potentially low threshold for committing an offence, which they fear, could lead to a ‘deluge of vexatious claims’.”  “A new offence of possessing inflammatory material could even render material such as the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church...inflammatory.  The Catholic Church’s understanding of the human person, including the belief that sex and gender are not fluid and changeable, could fall foul of the new law. Allowing for respectful debate, means avoiding censorship and accepting the divergent views and multitude of arguments inhabiting society.”Mr Horan added; “The Church believes that fundamental freedoms must be protected, as the right to exercise freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is ‘an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person’ and ‘a right that must be recognised and protected by civil authority, always within the limits of the common good and public order’. The courts have noted that the freedom to shock, offend and disturb, as well as the contentious and unwelcome are protected by the right to freedom of expression, and the bishops have declared that freedom of expression provisions must be robust enough to protect the freedom to disagree.Mr Horan concluded; “The bishops decry so-called ‘cancel culture’ in their submission, expressing deep concern at the ‘hunting down of those who disagree with prominent orthodoxies with the intention to expunge the non-compliant from public discourse and with callous disregard for their livelihoods’. They say that ‘no single section of society has dominion over acceptable and unacceptable speech or expression’ and urged the law to be proportionate and fair and allow for respectful debate and tolerance lest we become an ‘intolerant, illiberal society’.”ENDSPeter Kearney 
Director 
Catholic Media Office 
0141 221 1168
07968 122291 
pk@scmo.org 
www.scmo.orgNote to Editors:The full text of the submission to the consultation is shown below:Catholic Church responds to Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill ConsultationJustice Committee – Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) BillConsolidation2.    The Bill brings together the majority of existing hate crime laws into one piece of legislation. Do you believe there is merit in the consolidation of existing hate crime laws and should all such laws be covered?We agree that there is merit in consolidating existing hate crime laws.Other forms of crime not included in the Bill5.    Do you think that sectarianism should have been specifically addressed in this Bill and defined in hate crime legislation? For example, should a statutory aggravation relating to sectarianism or a standalone offence have been created and added?Existing legislation, including existing statutory aggravations, adequately covers offences relating...

A New Lectionary for Scotland

| 24th July 2020 | Blogging

A New Lectionary for Scotland 24 July 2020 Scotland’s Catholic Bishops have approved the preparation of a new Lectionary (a book of readings used at Mass) to update and replace the three volume Lectionary in use in the dioceses of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland for almost 30 years. The current Lectionary was first published in 1981 using the Jerusalem Bible (1966) as its base text. Commenting on the publication, Bishop Hugh Gilbert, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said; “In reaching a decision about a translation for the Lectionary, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland itself considered the values they would most expect a Lectionary to embody, for example, accuracy, dignity, facility of proclamation, and accessibility. The Catholic Edition of the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible, published in 2018, will be used as the base text for the new translation, it has been accepted by the Bishops of England and Wales as the basis for their own Lectionary and the Scottish Bishops voted at their July 2020 meeting to use it as well. It makes practical and pastoral good sense for the same translation to be used in Scotland, England and Wales.” Bishop Gilbert added; “The National Liturgy Commission has looked closely at the issue of a new Lectionary and hope that its publication will keep the biblical word alive and active for the holy People of God and shape thought and culture in our changing world.” ENDS Peter Kearney 
Director 
Catholic Media Office 
0141 221 1168
07968 122291 
pk@scmo.org 
www.scmo.org Note to Editors: 1. The work of editing and publishing the new Lectionary is expected to take several years. 2. A full statement on the new Lectionary from the National Liturgy Commission is shown below. The Lectionary and the Word of God The Church, throughout her history, sets before the faithful the riches of Sacred Scripture to be read and broken open in worship and for use in private devotions. The Second Vatican Council, in an effort to restore the practice of the early centuries of the Church of a continuous reading of a breadth of Scripture,  promulgated a new lectionary for the Roman Rite, with a revised structure and a wide selection of Scripture texts. St Paul writes: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Thus, the Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord, in so far as she never ceases, particularly in the sacred liturgy, to partake of the bread of life and to offer it to the faithful from the one table of the Word of God and the Body of Christ (Dei Verbum, 21). By listening to and understanding the Scriptures we encounter God and understand how he reveals himself to us, enabling us to grow in faith. But we do not listen alone. Through a faithful proclamation of the word of God within the tradition of the Church we benefit from the holiness and wisdom of all the faithful who have gone before us. According to the General Introduction to the Lectionary: through his word, God unceasingly calls to mind and extends the plan of salvation, which achieves its fullest expression in the liturgy. The liturgical celebration becomes therefore the continuing, complete, and effective presentation of God’s word. Developments leading to a revised translation of the Lectionary The three volume Lectionary in use in the dioceses of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland was first published in 1981 using the Jerusalem Bible (1966) and the Grail Psalms (1963). It was subsequently re-printed, although is presently out of print. In recent times, English-speaking Bishops’ Conferences worldwide have approved a new translation of the Book of Psalms – “The Abbey Psalms” – for the Liturgy of the Hours. This new translation is the w...