BY Ian Dunn | June 7 2013 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Scottish hierarchy down to four

—Vatican accepts resignation of Motherwell Bishop — Nuncio predicts new Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh within a month

Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell has formally retired, after more than 30 years in the role.

At a meeting last Thursday, the priests of Motherwell Diocese were told by Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the Apostolic nuncio to the UK, that the Vatican had accepted the bishop’s resignation and that Bishop Joseph Toal of Argyll and the Isles will be acting as Apostolic administrator until the Vatican appoints a new bishop.

While in Scotland, the nuncio also suggested that a candidate for the vacant bishop’s chair in St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese would be named this month and Episcopal appointments would soon come for Paisley and Dunkeld as well.

The present Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has been reduced from eight to four non-retired members.

Bishop Devine tendered his resignation in August of last year, having reached his 75th birthday, the age at which bishops must offer their retirement.

The bishop said he had been proud to serve as Bishop of Motherwell but his time in the role was at an end.

“Thirty years is around 11,000 days and well over 10,000 of these days have been very happy ones for me,” he said. “Of course there have been sad days, days in which I presided at the funerals of over 80 priests, three of them were barely 40 years old. But after such a long time in office I will be very glad, like the old soldier, simply to fade away.”

Bishop Devine also said he will always retain  ‘a deep and abiding fondness for the people of Lanarkshire’ and that he was ‘profoundly appreciative of their loyalty, support and generosity not only from my own congregations but from people of all faiths and none.’

A spokesman for the diocese said the bishop, who has had health issues in recent years, was ‘relieved and happy’ to be standing down.

“He had hoped that his successor would be appointed shortly [after his 75th birthday] but he was told, however, that that would be unlikely and that he would have to continue into 2013,” the spokesman said. “He is now relieved and happy.”

Bishop Toal of Argyll and the Isles, and Motherwell Diocese’s new administrator, offered Bishop Devine his heartfelt thanks for ‘his long service to the diocese.’

Bishop Toal said: “I will strive to serve the diocese and the Church in every way I can and I look forward to working with the clergy, religious and lay Faithful of Motherwell.”

Motherwell now becomes the fourth of Scotland’s eight dioceses to be without a Vatican-appointed bishop. Paisley and Dunkeld Dioceses have administrators from within those dioceses, and St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese—and now Motherwell Diocese—have apostolic administrators: Archbishop Philip Tartgalia of Glasgow and Bishop Toal respectively.

However, the Papal nuncio to the United Kingdom said that he hoped a new Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh will be appointed this month, and that new bishops for Paisley and Dunkeld will follow soon after.


— This story ran in full in the June 7 print edition of the SCO


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