Geared up for Glasgow challenge
Publication Date: 2012-09-07
Archbishop-elect Philip Tartaglia to focus efforts on bringing young people back to the Church
The new Archbishop of Glasgow has said he hopes to make the ‘generational challenge’ of bringing young people back to the Church the hallmark of his tenure.
In an exclusive interview with the SCO ahead of his installation this Saturday, Archbishop-elect Philip Tartaglia said he believes, that along with the ‘whole bishops’ conference, all priests and teachers’ that he has to help ‘the Catholic community re-engage with eternal truths of the Faith.’
“The immutability of the truth of the Faith is so alien to the materialistic philosophy of the dominant culture,” Archbishop-elect Tartaglia said. “But I have no doubt the Faith can stand up to the challenge. The difficulty is helping the broader Catholic community, who have been really sifted by these powerful trends in contemporary life that are not conducive to experiencing the presence of God.”
The archbishop-elect said an emotional farewell to his previous diocese of Paisley at a farewell Mass on Monday and said one of the great joys of that post had been the chance to re-engage with young people.
“I think bishops have a special ministry to young people,” he said. “And in Glasgow I need to find a way of expressing that. I have found they really appreciate direct personal contact, if you engage with them, share your faith in Christ and your humanity with them.
“You don’t need to talk in text speak, or give the impression you know all about dating or the pop world,” he said. “They expect you to be a bishop and I don’t water down the message or avoid challenging things and they take it fine.”
The archbishop-elect also stressed how proud he is to have been appointed Archbishop of Glasgow by Pope Benedict XVI.
“My primary identity is Glaswegian,” the Scots-Italian said. “After that, it gets complicated. This is my home city, my home diocese; I was ordained a priest for this city. It is a huge privilege.”
He said he had been taken aback by the ‘savagery’ of some of the criticism that he faced after his appointment was announced for what he called an ‘indiscretion’ over comments about deceased MP David Cairns.
“There is a danger you want to retreat and roll up into a foetal ball, I’ve felt like that recently,” he said. “But you must never lose sight of engagement with the wider world, otherwise you risk becoming a ghetto Church.”
Though averring he would not shy away from the pressures that come with the national profile that the Archbishopric of Glasgow confers, he did say he was determined not to be distracted from the essential work of the archdiocese.
“That would be a fear, that national and international commitments take you away too much, and I leave the business of the diocese to someone else,” he said. “My heart is the heart of a parish priest, and I would see the diocese as a parish. My job is to look after and love the parish.”
As for the installation itself, he admitted he was keen to ‘get through it’ so ‘I can get started’ as it had been an ‘odd period’ of transition.
“The human practical stuff of moving house is very stressful,” he said. “And I have been asked to sing the preface at the installation, which I have never done before so I have been practising that at home a lot.”
Only two weeks after his installation he will leave for Rome and the Bishops’ Synod on the New Evangelisation and the launch of the Year of Faith.
“I want to get my team in place before I go away,” he said. “I want to visit the different deaneries, so I can go with a good heart and really engage in the synod because I think that is really important and I am looking forward to seeing the world’s bishops break down the rhetoric into a clear agenda.”
PIC: PAUL McSHERRY