BY Amanda Connelly | December 1 2017 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Rediscover St Andrew’s spirit to unify Scotland politicans told

Archbishop says Patron Saint can be a beacon of unity in a time of division

Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh has encouraged politicians to be inspired by the example of Scotland’s patron, St Andrew.

The archbishop addressed MSPs in his Time for Reflection speech at Holyrood on Tuesday November 28, praising the influence St Andrew has had on Scotland and the lessons we can draw from him that have been carried down through the ages.

“Today, we’re still proud of Andrew, but in a vague, distant way,” he said. “Yet he, the university town, his name, and his flag, all remind us of something that’s been here, doing a lot of good for a lot of people, for many centuries: and that is the civilising influence of fair laws, of just courts, of a belief in objective truth, of standards of behaviour, of mutual respect, of helping others who need a hand.

“And that’s probably the best thing about having Andrew as national patron: no matter your beliefs, there are still one or two of these things that we can all agree are worth holding on to and that are good for us all.”

Speaking ahead of St Andrew’s Day on November 30, Archbishop Cushley spoke of how ‘the English choose to celebrate St George, the Irish St Patrick and the Welsh St David. The Welsh found a local lad to celebrate as their national patron; the English have an Armenian soldier, popular among the Crusaders of the high middle ages; the Irish chose a Briton, maybe even from what is now Scotland; and the Scots have a Galilean fisherman.’

“Who got the best patron?” he asked. “Well, the English picked someone brave and chivalrous; the Welsh picked someone holy; the Irish picked someone fiery and outspoken; and we picked… a fisherman.

“Why a fisherman? Well, I have a theory, and it’s nothing to do with smokies: so, get comfortable, because here it comes.

“You see, the English used to have St Peter as their national patron, and he was the first Pope. At that time, the Scots had St Columba as their national patron; good local choice, but not quite up to competing with the first Pope; so, the Scots changed their national patron to St Andrew.

“Now, Andrew wasn’t the first pope, but he was the first man to be called to follow Jesus. And in the middle ages, that counted for something.”

He also spoke of how, more than a thousand years ago, the saint’s relics were delivered to St Andrews, with the kings and the people of Scotland erecting a cathedral there to honour him.

“I’m told that, for centuries, St Andrew’s Cathedral was the largest building in the whole of Scotland, and pilgrims came from all over Europe to visit it,” he added.

The director of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office, Anthony Horan, spoke of his delight at seeing the Catholic bishops present in parliament, and the importance that we, ‘as a society’, remember and honour our saints.

“As we approach the feast of St Andrew it is fitting that Archbishop Cushley be invited to deliver the Time for Reflection,” he said. “It is important that as a society we honour our saints and there is no doubt that St Andrew has a special place in Scottish hearts.

“I am personally delighted to see our Catholic bishops in the Scottish Parliament and I am extremely grateful to the Presiding Officer and his team for their warm welcome and kind hospitality.

“It is also a fitting opportunity to thank all those politicians who work for the common good of our society, particularly our Catholic MSPs who commit themselves to loving service in an increasingly testing environment.”


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