BY No Author | September 26 2014 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Church pays tribute to First Minister

Scotland’s bishops call for active Catholic participation post referendum

Scotland’s bishops have hailed Alex Salmond as a ‘wonderful champion’ for Scotland and ‘one of the most able politicians’ in British history after the First Minister announced he was stepping down as SNP leader following last week’s 55 to 45 per cent no vote in the independence referendum.

The bishops, who respect the result of the ballot, are also urging the Catholic community to continue to be active in public debate and decision-making.

In a letter to Mr Salmond, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow expressed the thanks and support of Scotland’s bishops for his long service to the country.

“The bishops are especially grateful for your recognition of the important place of religion and faith in Scotland, for your support of Catholic education as making its own distinctive contribution to the good of Scotland as a whole, and for your sensitivity to the issues around religious freedom which are emerging in our country as they are elsewhere,” the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland says in his letter.

“With good reason, you have been described as one of the most able and influential political leaders that Scotland and the United Kingdom has ever produced.”

Archbishop Tartaglia went on to say Scotland’s bishops remain grateful for the support and assistance given by the Scottish Government before and during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Scotland in 2010.

Last Friday the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland released a statement recognising and respecting the result of the Scottish referendum, that Scotland should remain a part of the United Kingdom, and commending ‘all those who participated in what was a passionate and sometimes partisan debate.’

“We urge the Catholic community to continue to engage in public debate and decision-making and, in doing so, to uphold the meaning and importance of the Christian message,” they say. “May God bless Scotland.”

Prominent Catholics on both sides of the referendum issue who campaigned prior to the ballot also gave the SCO their reactions to the no result.

“Scotland has debated and Scotland has decided. In 1999 referring to the referendum that inaugurated devolution the then Labour leader John Smith coined the phrase ‘the settled will of the Scottish people,’” Professor John Haldane of St Andrews University said. “It was used again by the Prime Minister in response to the outcome of the 2014 independence referendum… The question is how to strike a new balance between the constituent parts of the UK. That is a great challenge but also a great opportunity to renew the politics of the UK.”

Rennie McOwan, a former SCO editor, however, said: “The constitutional debate will rumble on. A major sore is still with us in the presence on Scottish soil of the nuclear installations at Faslane on the Holy Loch.”


—Read the full version of this story in September 26 edition of the SCO in parishes from Friday.

—In this week’s print edition: Reconciliation service Edinburgh, Archbishop Tartaglia on sectarian trouble in Glasgow.




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