St. Andrew's Conference

The Bishops Conference of Scotland will host an international Conference in Glasgow on Saturday 1 December 2012 to mark the Church s ˜Year of Faith .

The ˜St. Andrew s Conference which will be attended by over 300 delegates will provide a platform for guest speakers from around the world to address Pope Benedict XVI s call for a new evangelisation.

The speakers will include; Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Professor George Weigel, one of America's leading public intellectuals, and the biographer of the late Pope John Paul II and the papal Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Archbishop Antonio Mennini.

The Conference will be hosted by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, President of the Bishops Conference of Scotland and will be attended by Cardinal Keith O Brien, it will be held in Glasgow s City Chambers, where Depute Lord Provost Gerald Leonard will welcome the delegates.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland said: "I am delighted that two of the most influential voices in the Catholic world will be coming to Scotland to offer their insights on the challenges we face and the solutions we might adopt in re-invigorating the Church and bringing the values of the Gospel to bear on our society.

Archbishop Tartaglia added; Cardinal Pell has been a hugely influential figure in Australian society and a powerful voice in the English-speaking Catholic world for more than a decade, while George Weigel, the biographer of John Paul II has been a highly persuasive and influential commentator on Church and society in the United States and mainland Europe.   The fact that both men were so willing to come to Scotland is for me a sign of hope, a sign that the Catholic Church in Scotland is open for business, confident and prepared for a new effort to re-evangelise our society and culture."

Speaking on the topic From Vatican II to the New Evangelisation , Cardinal Pell will say; During the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church we find a number of dramatically successful examples of reform and renewal

Cardinal Pell will say; we should seek to build upon our natural common ground with our brothers in faith in areas such as the defence of marriage and the family.   The Jewish and Muslim communities are also deeply concerned by the rise of aggressive secularism; in particular, its attempts to redefine marriage and impose a new orthodoxy on the culture, the aim of which is to silence traditional believers and force them to depart from the Public Square.  

Adding; We need secular allies also, especially civil and political leaders.   Even in these troubled times, there remains an enduring respect and admiration for the Church because of its commitment to serving the poor and its contribution to education, health care and human dignity.   This compassion is the practical and public expression of a Catholicism that is free to practise, to grow, to teach and to evangelise.  
Cardinal Pell will also point out, that; the Catholic Church provides a quarter of the world s healthcare, is the largest non-government provider of education in the world, and, through its Caritas network, distributes over US$2.6 billion annually in aid to the poor. As other Christian Churches and Communities sadly are struggling to hold on to a coherent apostolic tradition, the depth and fidelity of Catholicism to the roots of Christianity has become heightened.   The beauty and richness of its witness to the person of Jesus Christ in all aspects of human life and society is a compelling answer to the void of secularism.    

Professor George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Centre, a Catholic theologian, one of America's leading public intellectuals, and the biographer of the late Pope John Paul II will also address the Conference.

He will propose that we are living at the end of Counter-Reformation Catholicism and the beginning of Evangelical Catholicism. Arguing that; In the post-World War II period, Catholics experienced a relatively comfortable fit between the culture of the Church and the ambient public culture throughout the regions in which Christianity had been long established

Since then, the culture of the West has become aggressively secular which often manifests itself through a deep hostility to Gospel truth (especially moral truth) and a determination to drive Christians who affirm those truths out of the public square and into a privatized existence on the margins of society .

Professor Weigel will suggest, the Church faces a challenge that is somewhat similar, at least structurally, to the challenge it faced in communist lands during the Cold War years. That challenge cannot be met by timid or lukewarm Catholicism. It can only be met by a robustly evangelical Catholicism that proposes the Gospel in a compelling and courageous way, and that insists that public authorities allow the Church the free space in which to be itself, make its proposal, and offer the service of charity to others.  


Peter Kearney
Catholic Media Office
5 St. Vincent Place
G1 2DH
0141 221 1168
07968 122291

Note to Editors:

1. You are invited to send a reporter, photographer, camera crew to the Conference.
2. The full text of Cardinal Pell s remarks is shown below (NB: Embargoed 11am, 1 December 2012)

Cardinal George Pell
St. Andrew s Conference
Glasgow, 1 December 2012

     The word gospel comes from the Greek word euangelion and Latin term evangelium meaning good news.     Often the term was reserved to important announcements by public officials and is found in the first verse of Mark s gospel.

     We do not speak of Our Lord as an evangelist, although his revealed version of the good news, the Maker s instructions are the teachings we follow.   For us the principal announcements of the good news are found in the four synoptic gospels.

     During the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church we find a number of dramatically successful examples of reform and renewal.   The monastic rule of St. Benedict (480 - 547) eventually produced thousands of monasteries across Europe. And St Columcille s Iona too was part of the monastic renewal that helped bring about the revival and spread of Christianity in Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. The next great wave of renewal was with the Dominican and Franciscan friars in the thirteenth century.

     At its best the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation was an attempt to return to the Scriptures (Henry VIII s problems have a quite different motivation).   I have heard it argued that the Reformation helped to save the Catholic Church by forcing the Catholics to take their religious claims seriously.   The Council of Trent (1545-63) began too late and dragged on too long but eventually produced wonderful fruit especially through the creation of the Tridentine seminary (an adapted model is still used today by most dioceses) and the publication of the Catechism of the Council of Trent.   The Society of Jesus, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, was the leader in the so-called Counter Reformation.

     We should also see the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) as the most spectacular attempt at re-evangelization since the time of the Reformation and the most recent foundation stone on which our present efforts are based.

     The Second Vatican Council was also the most important event in Catholic life since the sixteenth century Council of Trent.   Its teachings and the unexpected aftermaths have changed the Church, especially in the First World of Western Europe, North America and smaller countries like Australia and New Zealand.  

     Yet for most youngsters and many of the middle aged, this Council is about as well known as the Council of Chalcedon.   Only those sixty years and older can remember much about the days of the Latin Mass, high rates of Mass-going and plentiful vocations.   To the extent that they think about it at all, they presume things were then as they are now.  

     Occasionally I have encountered small groups of fervent young Catholics, who covertly lament the Council and gaze nostalgically at a pre Conciliar Golden Age.   I have disappointed them by pointing out that we would all be discomfited in such a return, by the constraints then taken for granted e.g. no ecumenical cooperation, mixed marriages celebrated in a sacristy outside the Church and the absence of, e.g., parish councils and school boards.   Catholic life then was much more clericalised with all leadership positions in Catholic schools and hospitals held by nuns, brothers and a few priests.  

     In Australia at least, while we had many orphanages and refuges, we had very few social welfare services outside the St Vincent de Paul groups and no Caritas agency collecting for development and relief work internationally.   This was a Conciliar development in Australia, although we had been blessed with vigorous societies supporting Catholic missionary activity overseas.  

     The most important document of the Council was the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium , where a Copernican revolution saw the People of God (Chapter 2) treated before the hierarchy and episcopate (Chapter 3).   The recognition of the baptismal dignity of the lay faithful was deeply in accord with the New Testament.   It was also providential for the society which has emerged where hostile pressures have increased so much and are quite beyond the capacity of the reduced number of clergy and religious for effective resistance.   The Second Vatican Council recognized the proper dignity of the baptized.  

     Lumen Gentium also took up the interrupted work of the First Vatican Council and spelt out the role of all the bishops as successors of the apostles, rather than delegates of the Pope, in the doctrine of collegiality (the bishops ruling with and under Peter), which is classically exemplified in an Ecumenical Council and reflected in the regular Synods of Bishops, the last of which dealt with our topic of the New Evangelization.  

     While I will mention later some of the misapplications of the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the World (Gaudium et Spes), the basic doctrine that we engage with all those of good will, seek to cooperate rather than condemn, and participate regularly in the discussions of the Public Square are foundational attitudes for nearly every Catholic today.   One hundred years ago in England, Scotland and Australia our situation was something like that of the Muslims in our communities today (without the violence, except for Northern Ireland).  

     The most obvious day-to-day change took place in the liturgy, where the transition into the vernacular for the celebration of the sacraments was not explicitly mandated by the Council itself.   I suspect that not many of the Council Fathers anticipated that our liturgies would so quickly resemble, at least on the surface, Protestant eucharists rather than the Tridentine Mass.   Pope John XXIII had only expected that a portion of the Mass would be celebrated in the vernacular.  
     On that point, it has been pleasing to see, some 40 years later, how the new translation has improved the quality and fidelity of the English text of the liturgy to the Latin original.   More importantly, this more sacral language has helped turn us more towards Transcendence, the worship of the one true God.   Christ should always be at the centre of the Mass, rather than the priest.   As a consequence, I strongly support placing a crucifix between the people and the officiating priest and would support a return to the practice of the celebrant facing east, with his back to the people.   This would make it abundantly clear that whoever is at the centre of the celebration, it is not the priest.  

     All the Conciliar documents were approved by overwhelming majorities of the Council Fathers and were generally the successful fusion of two different and sometimes contrasting ambitions.  

     One group emphasized first of all the return to the Biblical sources, ressourcement , while the other school emphasized the need for aggiornamento , the need to bring the Church up to date.  

     Both movements are to be understood indicatively rather than literally.   No one espoused a strict biblical fundamentalism, while no Catholic became as up to date as the Rev Don Cupitt, an Anglican academic of Cambridge in the sixties who did not believe in God.   A number of theologians (non-Catholic) belonged to the Death of God school.  

     Karl Barth, the distinguished Protestant theologian, deeply admired by Pope Pius XII, asked Pope Paul VI what were the criteria to determine whereby doctrines and practices were to be judged as suitably contemporary or old-fashioned or a step too far.   What does aggiornamento mean?   Accommodation to what? he asked.      

     These contrasting attitudes saw the creation of the theological review Communio as the alternative to the increasingly radical Concilium.   Both orientations were spelling out the consequences of their foundational positions.  

     These tensions continue, if in a muted fashion after the policies of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, between those who follow Pope Benedict in espousing a hermeneutic of continuity, an organic development of doctrine and practice within the tradition and the Bologna School of historical theology, who are suspected of believing in a hermeneutic of rupture , seeing Vatican II as a radical development or departure, somehow standing isolated from the preceding 2000 years of history.   Appeals to the Spirit of Vatican II always make me suspicious because they usually imply that no justification can be found within the texts of the Council for the ideas being announced, and that other more modern criteria are being invoked.

     I add here that there are aspects of both approaches represented at the Council “ ressourcement and aggiornamento “ which are needed and important.  

     The 1960s was initially an age of optimism exemplified in the person of Pope John XXIII.   President de Gaulle in France and Konrad Adenauer in West Germany were strong Catholics and the election of John F. Kennedy as the first Catholic president of the USA electrified the Irish diaspora everywhere in the English-speaking world.  

     The permissive revolution which followed the invention of the contraceptive pill in 1962 had not properly got under way and the social dislocation which accompanied the unpopular war in Vietnam had not reached its peak.   The student uprisings in France and Germany in 1968 followed after the Council, but triggered a whirlwind of revolution in the Catholic world.  

     Pope Paul VI s long delayed decision against artificial contraception in 1968 was a catalyst.   Many realized their exaggerated ambitions for change would not be realized.   10,000 priests around the world left in the pontificate of Pope Paul VI and a larger number of religious.   A number of my contemporaries had been ordained expecting to receive permission to be married later; they were disappointed.      

     Vocations to the priesthood and religious life declined in many Western countries and Catholic life collapsed in countries with an extraordinarily high rate of religious practice and with many missionaries overseas, e.g., Holland and Quebec.     I was fearful in the past that we faced such a prospect of collapse in Australia; but the situation there has been stabilized, although the gains are still fragile.  

     Mixed fruit followed the efforts of the Second Vatican Council at New Evangelization, many of them not intended by the Council and not direct consequences of the Council teachings.              

     Where are we now?   What can we do?  

     Let me try to use the parable of the sower and the seed to elucidate our situation.

     In this parable (Luke 8:4-15) one person scatters the seeds before the furrows are ploughed.   Seeds therefore fall on nearby paths, some on rocky ground.   Other seeds were taken by the birds.   Today with mighty machines we can sow the seeds in the already ploughed furrows and cover them quickly.   These developments mean the enemy too can plant his weeds very efficiently.   Today we can more easily water and fertilize the crops whether they be good or bad.

     Many hardy varieties of genuine wheat have been developed to suit different climates. Not everyone has to join Opus Dei or the Neo Catechumenal Way!   Some brands however are deficient, appear healthy, but produce no seed.   Some forms of Catholic life are contraceptive, where all seems well on the surface, but no new life is produced.   All plants have to be hardy because the pollution in the air is now nearly as bad as it was in the pagan world in Jesus time and they still have to battle the weeds.

     Reading the signs of the times is difficult because majority opinion is not always correct.   We need goals and objectives, following the difficult-to-recognize Spirit rather than being captured by trends, good or bad, because in many, perhaps most, parts of the Western world the Church is still losing ground.    

     In the Western world, all those of us who love the Church cannot afford to ignore this, much less to be in a state of denial.   If we cannot recognize where we are, it is much more difficult to plan for re-evangelization.

     Because we cannot command or call up conversions to Christ, what might we usefully try to do?   Let me suggest some simple measures and the best way to resist hostile pressures.   To reverse decline “ whether it be in sport or religion “ is to insist that the fundamentals are in place.

     First, we must emphasise the importance of faith in the one true God who loves us.   We need to combat intellectually the forces of the new atheism and be confident about what we have to offer in the pursuit of Truth.   This implies a knowledge of philosophy and science, a defence from reason before any appeal to Revelation.        

Second, the crucified Christ and his teachings have to be at the centre of all our catechetical and religious formation work with the young.   Crucifixion Christianity is essential if we are to speak to those who are suffering and those who acutely feel the need for redemption.   The fruits of the resurrection are many times not felt or not observed in day-to-day life.   At the time of the Reformation it was unnecessary to state this, because Christ was central for all the contending parties.   This is not our situation within or outside the Church.   Therefore as an archbishop I began by reforming religious education and the seminary.   It was essential to sequentially and comprehensively explain and promote the importance of core beliefs to audiences which often had little prior formation and no idea of their own basic story.    

No new evangelization is possible without a sound catechesis for the young.   I believe we have made important progress in many parts of Australia in religious education.   In the past our efforts were too often unfocused and misdirected.  

     It is no use teaching fifteen year old boys about the literary forms of the New Testament, when they have no idea about the basic kerygma and could scarcely distinguish a gospel from an epistle.  

     Once upon a time some began catechesis for first grades by talking about the liturgical year rather than emphasizing the gospel stories of Jesus life, death and resurrection.   I recall one young boy, admittedly a bit further along the track than a first grader, who told me that ordinary time in the liturgical year was when nothing happened.  

     On too many occasions in the past we presumed that someone else was teaching the central truths of the baptismal promises; what are described as the four foundations on the last page of our Know, Worship and Love textbooks:   one God, one Redeemer and Son of God, one Church (primarily and substantially) and Jesus call to follow Him by living the two great commandments of love through the essential framework of the Ten Commandments.  

     My third point was well made at a recent meeting of Bishops, when a young bishop pointed out that our views on salvation, on its nature, universality or limits, on the criteria Christ uses in judgement “ this ensemble of views colours our whole approach to Catholic life.

     November is the month when we particularly meditate on the mystery of death and resurrection, on Jesus explicit teaching on the reality of reward and punishment in the next life.   In other words we consider the four last things: death, judgement, heaven, hell.   If the fires of hell are never populated (in our view), then our life is likely to lack a sense of urgency.   If purgatory has lapsed into limbo also, so that we are unconcerned about the necessity of purification before entering into God s presence, then we might be drifting towards supporting an unreflective attitude that heaven is a universal human right.   This could be quite close to a radical agnosticism about life after death, and especially about reward or punishment after death.

Dangerously, we can start to act as though we are a purely this-world organization, where considerations about God count for little.   The closer we come to this extreme the less we should be surprised when people are unconcerned about the call to conversion.

     We certainly understand today that the God who judges us is loving and sympathetic as well as just, but Jesus also said that narrow is the way that leads to salvation (Mt 7:14).  

     We live in the light of eternity, following Christ s call for purity of heart, conversion, genuine love and faith.
     My fourth point is that today even in regular Christian formation Christ is too often displaced from the centre, His hard teachings obscured or neglected.   While disinterest is usually the greater problem, we have a whole range of alternatives, e.g. the charism of the founder, global warming, the sustainability of the planet, theorizing about social justice, even the struggle for life rather than stressing the call to repent and believe, to follow our brother the redeemer Jesus Christ the only Son of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; so too misdirected zeal worked to turn our eucharists too often into community celebrations rather than solemn traditional acts of worship.

     Proper worship of God our Father, through Christ His Son, combined with accurate Christian formation, could be described as putting into place the required sociological frameworks for the unpredictable work of the Spirit within our believing families and communities.  

     Liturgy which uplifts us and encourages a contemplation of the Divine is essential.   All Catholics must be helped to understand the importance of reverence for the Eucharist and for that important moment when God unites himself to us through his own self-gift.   It is through this self-gift that we are more fully able to become People of God who can truly live out the New Evangelization.        

     A fifth fundamental.   I repeat that youngsters and their parents from every type of Catholic family, good, bad or indifferent, need to be informed that the Ten Commandments are the indispensable moral framework for all Christians, not just for a few old churchgoers.   The primacy of conscience (a damaging notion when applied to the Word of God) cannot dispense anyone from any of the Ten Commandments.   The Ten Commandments are not like a final examination of ten questions where only six need be attempted.

     Most young Australian Catholics talk like relativists, even when their moral views are correct.   No longer is there any instinctive acceptance of moral truths, except perhaps in ecology or social justice.  

     Moving beyond these fundamentals to grapple with the Catholic forms of the new evangelization, we should acknowledge that Catholicism is not only for saints because sinners of every type and quality have always been part of Catholic history, to our shame.   We need to be doing what we can sociologically for those on the outer edge of the concentric or overlapping circles which make up the Christian community.
Few, if any, people fifty years ago expected the dark stain of sexual abuse to have spread so widely across the Church, while varying in extent even within countries.  

It does not need to be said that this is the most important and powerful barrier to the New Evangelization.  

We know in Australia sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has caused deep concern among Catholics and the wider community. It is shameful and shocking that this abuse, with its tragic toll on those who were abused and on their families, was committed by Catholic priests and church workers. That church officials have sometimes failed to deal appropriately with those who have been abused, and with priests and church workers accused of abuse, is deeply disturbing.

We acknowledge the pain that victims and their families have experienced and continue to experience. We express our remorse for past failures.
Again, in Australia at least, survivors and victims have been assisted, received some measure of justice, considerable compassion and many practical helps. However we are committed to doing more and there is much to be done.   Without doubt the press has helped the Church face up to its problems.  

Much still needs to be done in Australia and will be done, but substantial steps have been taken procedurally in the last 16 years and generally these procedures have been followed.  

We would hope that the Church community is purer and stronger in itself after removing much of this criminal moral cancer however the church will remain at the foot of the cross until every cancer cell is excised.

In the English speaking world, where Catholicism is nearly everywhere a minority, after the Second Vatican Council, and especially after Gaudium et Spes, we were properly urged to come out of the ghetto and dialogue with the world.   There is no alternative to this but we overestimated our strength and under-estimated the strength of the enemy, which has exponentially increased because of television, the worlds of entertainment and fashion, and now the internet and the ever-expanding range of instant communications.

Instead of lamenting the helps traditional Catholic life gave across the centuries in cities, towns and villages and somehow rejoicing in small numbers in our hostile world, we need to be working to rebuild our defences, to shore up Catholic identity and practice sociologically rather than insisting on the removal of those surviving props.

     Only Western Protestantism has moved further than Western Catholicism away from the penitential practices of all the good monotheist traditions.   I commend the decision of the English Catholic Bishops to reintroduce the traditional Friday abstinence from meat for both intrinsic reasons (as a help to conversion) and as a sociological marker.

     In one Australian seminary some decades ago the Salve Regina was banned as too divisive and the rosary could not be recited together as a public devotion.   Devotion and prayer to Our Lady constitute one of the identifying marks of genuine Catholicism.

     Some of the older medieval traditions are popular with young people such as prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, which meets their need for silence and recollection, while Benediction is regularly an equally popular encouragement for worship.

     Rediscovered forms of prayer such as silent meditation can also be taught usefully to young children who do not come from regularly worshipping families.   We are teaching this in an increasing number of primary schools in Sydney and to good effect.

     A final point on Family Prayer.   The New Evangelization needs the prayerful contribution of the Ecclesia Domestica.   Encouraging commitment to a simple model proposed by one American bishop of eat together, pray together and go to Mass together has much to commend it.   The Catholic family is the heart of the Church and we need to encourage that heart to have a strong prayerful beat, so its members can be effective witnesses to the New Evangelization.  


We need allies.   Firstly, religious allies “ we should seek to build upon our natural common ground with our brothers in faith in areas such as the defence of marriage and the family.   The Jewish and Muslim communities are also deeply concerned by the rise of aggressive secularism; in particular, its attempts to redefine marriage and impose a new orthodoxy on the culture, the aim of which is to silence traditional believers and force them to depart from the Public Square.  

In Sydney we are blessed by good relationships with Jewish and Muslim leaders.   Our tenth annual Abrahamic Faiths Conference this year focused on our shared tradition of marriage and the family as the patrimony of humanity .   We are grateful to God for the opportunities we have to work and stand together, especially on these issues of marriage, the family and religious freedom.  

The questions of the broader interaction of Islam with secularism and with the Catholic Church remain to be determined.   We hope that terrorist violence will regularly diminish throughout the West (this is not inevitable) and that interfaith cooperation on some religious issues might be possible.   New habits of mind will be necessary.      

We need secular allies also, especially civil and political leaders.   Even in these troubled times, there remains an enduring respect and admiration for the Church because of its commitment to serving the poor and its contribution to education, health care and human dignity.   This compassion is the practical and public expression of a Catholicism that is free to practise, to grow, to teach and to evangelise.  
Earlier this year, I was invited to address the annual scientific meeting of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.   I was given the topic, Is Catholicism compatible with women s health?   The audience seemed a little surprised but responded warmly to the figures I cited, demonstrating that the Catholic Church provides a quarter of the world s healthcare, is the largest non-government provider of education in the world, and, through its Caritas network, distributes over US$2.6 billion annually in aid to the poor.        

For a variety of reasons, people today respond more positively to witnesses, rather than teachers.   By drawing on the power of the Church s witness and its living out of the teachings of Christ, especially the Beatitudes and the Commandments, we are more likely to be taken seriously by those within and outside of the Church.                            

The great Scottish novelist Dame Muriel Spark once explained her conversion by saying, If you're going to do a thing, you should do it thoroughly. If you're going to be a Christian, you may as well be a Catholic.   In these times when the secular vision of human life is becoming more and more impoverished and unfulfilling, only a religious vision which thoroughly and intelligently contrasts with this poverty will attract those seeking God, identity and belonging.  

As other Christian Churches and Communities sadly are struggling to hold on to a coherent apostolic tradition, the depth and fidelity of Catholicism to the roots of Christianity has become heightened.   The beauty and richness of its witness to the person of Jesus Christ in all aspects of human life and society is a compelling answer to the void of secularism.    

New techniques alone cannot improve our situation, although we have 70,000 members of Xt3, our interactive website in Sydney.   Modern and effective methods of communication are helpful but insufficient in themselves.   They produce sympathy and some interest, rather than the deep personal conversion Christ invites us to make.   Christians are called to go deeper:   to believe.    

God is with us.   We have the basic truths about life.   We know and access God s forgiveness and rejoice in the promise of eternal life.  

The living witness of the Church throughout the world continues to proclaim that only in Christ does man discover the fullness of his humanity and that it is only through Christ that he is redeemed.   May this witness give us a renewed and greater confidence to invite all men, women and children to that personal encounter with him that is the essence of the New Evangelization.                

The Way Ahead

     We all know what lies at the heart of the New Evangelization, that it is not like the higher mathematics of rocket science; beyond the reach of most of us.   Rather, the New Evangelization is like losing weight.   We know this is achieved by eating less and exercising.   The challenge is to do what is required and, in Australia at least, to convince many that they should lose weight!  

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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     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...


| 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...

Funeral Arrangements for Bishop Vincent Logan

| 25th January 2021 | Blogging

Funeral Arrangements for Bishop Vincent Logan   The Reception of Bishop Vincent Logan’s Remains, his Requiem Mass and Burial at Balgay Cemetery will be recorded and available to be viewed on the Diocese of Dunkeld website  later the same day as the event. The funeral will also be available as a livestream here:   RECEPTION OF BISHOP VINCENT’S REMAINS WITH VESPERS fromSt Andrew’s Cathedral, Dundee at 5 p.m. on Monday 25th January, 2021.   SOLEMN REQUIEM MASS for the Repose of Bishop Vincent’s soul on Tuesday, 26th January 2021, at 12 noon.   BURIAL OF BISHOP VINCENT’S REMAINS at Balgay Cemetery, Dundee, on Tuesday, 26th January 2021 from 1.30 p.m.   Due to COVID-19 restrictions, with reduced numbers, precedence has been given to Bishop Vincent’s relatives and closest friends. A small number of diocesan clergy, have been invited to concelebrate the Funeral Mass.   ENDS   Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291                    Note to Editors: An image of Bishop Logan is available here:    ...

Homily for the Requiem of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia

| 21st January 2021 | Blogging

Thursday 21 January 2021         In his homily at the funeral of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Bishop Hugh Gilbert, describes the late Archbishop as “a great tree felled unexpectedly in the middle of the night” a loss that “has changed the landscapes of so many lives.”   The full text of the homily is shown below:   ENDS   Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291   Homily for the Requiem of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia St Andrew’s Cathedral, 21 January 2021   “Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.” There are so many settings in which to have known Archbishop Philip: as a member of his family, or in his school and student days, in Rome, in the seminaries and parishes he served, as Bishop of Paisley and Archbishop of Glasgow. There were the many circles he moved in: of ecumenical dialogue, Catholic education about which he was so engaged and realistic, the civic life of Glasgow, not forgetting its sport. So many people touched by him, so many aspects to a life, so many perspectives to view it from. Three score years and ten. Our memories are fragments of a greater whole, and that whole – the mystery of a person - is in the mind and hands of God. “On the earth the broken arcs, in the heaven a perfect round.” Today, in Christ, we remember Philip’s life, we give thanks for it and we pray for its completion and the comfort of the bereaved. We bring him and ourselves before God in a literal and metaphorical great Eucharistic prayer of hope and affection. The image that comes to me is of a great tree felled unexpectedly in the middle of the night – Storm Covid. And only when we woke up the day following did we begin to divine what had happened, did we begin to grasp the depths of its roots, to see the space this tree occupied, the shelter it gave, and what we’ve personally and collectively lost. This uprooting has changed the landscapes of so many lives. “Tree” seems right. The timber of this man was sound. It was sound all through. At a time when hollowness or rottenness seem to surface with disheartening regularity, this was a comfort. I think we felt this soundness and relied on it more than we knew. Eulogy is no part of a liturgy. It’s the last thing Philip would have wanted; he was not a self-advertising man. It’s not what we want; we are probably still too numb. But the prohibition of eulogy doesn’t mean we have to talk abstractions. Surely we can acclaim the providence of God, the presence of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit within him, from his birth seventy years ago to his committal today, from his baptism to this Eucharist, from the pouring of that first water to the final sprinkling of his remains. There seems a rare wholeness here. Surely we can acknowledge how the grace of his baptism and of his ordination grew and flowered in him, how the Lord was indeed his shepherd and through him shepherded others, how his priesthood became a true spiritual fatherhood which has left its trace on all of us. Looking at it from our side, we are commending to God today someone who wasn’t small in any sense, someone of gravitas, and someone in whom head and heart came together, possessed of intellectual force and clarity and at the same time of great human warmth. There have been so many testimonies to this (and my thanks to all who have sent condolences). He might have passed his life in the green pastures of dogmatic theology, by the restful waters of seminary teaching (if they exist) or of promising ecumenical dialogue, but he accepted pastoral assignments and he cherished them. He had a gift for friendship and insight into people. During our Ad Limina visit with the Pope in 2018 he said to the Holy Father, “I miss the parish”, and got a delighted papal thumbs-up. As a pastor, esp...