By SCMO in News Releases, Blogging | 24th March 2019
Sunday 24 March 2019
The Catholic Church has questioned the use of specific aggravations in the prosecution of hate crimes in Scotland. In a submission to the Scottish Government’s consultation on hate crimes, the church has raised concerns about the growing use of specific aggravations in law, which risk creating a growing “hierarchy of protected characteristics”.
In an endorsement of the right to freedom of expression, the church submission warns that in a climate of heightened sensitivity, the definition of ‘hate’ has become contentious and open to misuse. The submission states: “care must be taken to allow room for debate and a robust exchange of views, ensuring that ‘hate’ doesn’t include the kind of ordinary discourse where people reasonably hold divergent views. The fundamental right to freedom of expression, and the right of an individual to hold and express opinions, even if they are considered by some to be controversial or unwelcome must be upheld.”
While questioning the use of statutory aggravations in principal, the church accepts that; “in the absence of a better and fairer system of recording base offences (including evidence of any specific prejudicial behaviour involved e.g. anti-Catholicism), we appreciate the practical benefits of the use of statutory aggravations to record specific types of offending behaviour and to monitor trends.”
Catholic Parliamentary Office Director, Anthony Horan said;
“We do not believe there is a need for sectarianism to be specifically addressed and defined in hate crime legislation. Existing legislation, including existing statutory aggravations, are adequate. We would oppose any move to shift existing protections to an unnecessary sectarianism aggravation and agree with Lord Bracadale that the absence of such an aggravation would not leave a gap in the law as both race and religion statutory aggravations can be attached to any base offence if proven.”
Mr Horan ...
By SCMO in News Releases, Blogging | 15th January 2019
Tuesday 15 January 2019
A Scottish Bishop has called on Scots to visit the Holy Land in order to help beleaguered Christian communities there who are dependent on pilgrims and tourism. Bishop William Nolan, the Bishop of Galloway is currently visiting the Holy Land as part of an international delegation in support of Christians in Israel and Palestine.
The “Holy Land Coordination” delegation is made up of Bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa, who have made an annual pastoral visit to Israel and Palestine for the past 20 years.
Speaking from City of Haifa, Bishop Nolan said:
“In many parts of the Holy Land the indigenous Christian populations are declining or at risk. Many of them depend on pilgrims and tourism.”
“I pray that Christians at home will consider visiting the land of Christ’s birth and in so doing give their support to Christian communities here.”
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Notes to Editors:
For images of Bishop Nolan in the Holy Land: https://www.flickr.com/photos/139632090@N07/albums/72157704279758571
The Holy Land Coordination group’s annual meeting is taking place from 12th-17th January. The meeting will be held in the City of Haifa, including visits to Christian hospitals, schools and villages. The bishops will also take part in Inter-faith encounters.
The bishops visit Catholic communities and share in their Sunday liturgy, meeting with them. In difficult times, the visiting bishops have often heard pleas for more pilgrims to come from their home countries, and there has been a concerted and successful effort on the part of bishops’ conferences to encourage pilgrimages, assisting many whose livelihoods depend on pilgrims.
The bishops also speak at a high-level to their own governments,...
By SCMO in News Releases, Blogging | 21st December 2018
20 December 2018
On the 30th anniversary of the Lockerbie Air Disaster, Holy Trinity RC Church, Lockerbie will be open tomorrow (Friday 21 December) from 10am to allow visitors to call in for quiet reflection, to light a memorial candle or to have a chat and a cup of tea. The day will end with the celebration of Holy Mass at 7pm led by Bishop William Nolan with Canon Pat Keegans the former Parish Priest as guest preacher together with Fr Jim Hayes the current Parish Priest.
Bishop of Galloway, Bishop William Nolan said;
“Although 30 years have passed since the tragic events of 21 December 1988, the memories of the community of Lockerbie have not faded or diminished. The church today as then offers solace and support to all those affected and will continue to be present in the community of Lockerbie, praying for and supporting the town and its people as well as the American victims and their families.”
Canon Keegans who was parish priest in Lockerbie in 1988, will speak movingly of the aftermath of the disaster in his homily and say of the 270 who died;
“You are not just a distant memory. You are not from the past. You are precious people who live on in our hearts, for that is where your names are truly engraved.”
He will add;
“Some say that you have received justice. I am not at all convinced. What I can promise is that we will not close the book on the story of your lives, for the last chapter is still to be written: Pan Am 103. The truth must be known. The whole truth.”
Canon Keegans will conclude his sermon by saying;
“30 years ago in the darkness we kept the lights on; the light of our love. As Christmas approaches again this year we will hear the beautiful words concerning Christ. “A light shines in the darkness, a light that darkness could not overpower.” (John 1:5) Our loved ones who died now experience the fullness of life and light with God.”
By SCMO in News Releases, Blogging | 10th December 2018
10 December 2018
The Bishops of Scotland have appointed Fr Jim Grant to be the new General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference. Fr Grant is currently Parish Priest of Holy Family Parish in Mossend, Bellshill in the Diocese of Motherwell. He succeeds Mgr Hugh Bradley who was appointed in 2012.
Commenting on the appointment, Bishop Joe Toal, Bishop of Motherwell said:
“I am happy that Fr Grant has accepted the Bishops’ request to succeed Mgr Hugh Bradley as General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland. I am sure he will carry out his duties as General Secretary very well and will bring his long experience as a Parish Priest to assist wisely the Bishops and all who work for the Conference in the time ahead. Of course, we will miss his ministry in Motherwell Diocese but we are happy to contribute generously to the National Church in allowing Fr Grant to serve as General Secretary. He will still be resident in the Diocese and will continue to have an active role where possible. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide him as he accepts this new challenge.”
Reacting to his appointment, Fr Grant said:
“It came as quite a shock to me to be asked to undertake this role. I never sought nor expected to be anything but a parish priest. It is the everyday pastoral work in a parish setting which energises me and where I have found great fulfilment and it is with a very heavy heart that I will leave parish ministry albeit for even a short time. I shall miss enormously being part of a parish community. This new role will be something completely different, however, I do see a pastoral element in the role of General Secretary to the Bishops’ Conference which is to support, encourage and affirm all the different agencies and individuals who do such great work for the Bishops’ Conference and indeed for Catholic Church in Scotland. In a sense, these people will become my new ‘parishioners’.”
Fr Grant ...