BY Martin Dunlop | September 30 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Cardinal O’Brien presents Papal knighthood at Red Mass

Cardinal Keith O’Brien was the main concelebrant at the annual Red Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, on Sunday, marking the opening of the new legal year in Scotland.

Sunday’s Mass was an extra special occasion for Lord Gill, the Lord Justice Clerk of Scotland, when his outstanding service to public life in the country was recognised. Cardinal O’Brien, representing Pope Benedict XVI, bestowed upon him the Papal Knighthood.

Joining the cardinal and Lord Gill at Sunday’s Mass, were various members of the legal profession in Scotland and their families, including Lord Gill’s fellow judges, Lord Hardie, Lord Drummond Young, Lord Matthews and Lord Doherty.

Also present were Frank Mulholland QC, the Lord Advocate, Richard Keen QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, and Austin Lafferty, vice president of the Law Society of Scotland.

In his homily at Sunday’s Mass, Cardinal O’Brien urged Catholic lawyers in Scotland to remain strong and true to their religious beliefs.

“There is no doubt that one of the biggest challenges facing Catholic lawyers in Scotland today is a challenge which has faced many people and different groups in society down the ages: how do you live and act out your professional lives while at the same time remaining true to the teachings and doctrine of the Church?” Cardinal O’Brien said. “Specifically for lawyers the challenge must be how can you represent your clients’ interests to the best of your abilities while applying the law of the land, when at times these two pressures may be in conflict with your own Catholic Faith.”

The cardinal said that, in so doing, he was ‘echoing the words’ of Pope Benedict XVI during his address at Westminster Hall during his visit to the UK last September.

“The Pope called upon the lay Faithful, ‘within their respective spheres of influence,’ to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between Faith and reason at every level of national life,” the cardinal said, while encouraging those present to consider the message of the day’s readings and take confidence from the Word of God.

Prior to bestowing upon Lord Gill—who was attending his 44th consecutive Red Mass—the Papal Knighthood, the cardinal spoke about Lord Gill’s life and some of his many achievements.

Following on primary and secondary schooling at St Thomas’ Primary School and St Aloysius’ College, Glasgow, Lord Gill attended Glasgow University, gaining the degrees of MA and LLB before being called to the Scottish Bar as an Advocate in 1967.  From 1964 to 1977 he lectured in the Faculty of Law at the University of Edinburgh.

Lord Gill went on to become an Advocate Depute; then, as an Advocate. He was also appointed as Standing Junior Counsel to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Home Office and the Scottish Education Department; and in 1981, he was appointed a Queen’s Counsel.

Appointed a judge in 1994—at that time the only serving Catholic judge in Scotland—Lord Gill went on to become chairman of the Scottish Law Commission, a post he held until 2001 when he was appointed Lord Justice Clerk.

“Lord Gill is at present Scotland’s longest serving judge—undertaking a review of the Scottish Civil Courts on behalf of the Scottish Government and fulfilling various other roles on behalf of the UK and Scottish Governments,” the cardinal said. “He has enjoyed the support of his wife, Kate, and family, having been married for 42 years and having five sons and one daughter along with 14 grandchildren.  He is a loyal and active parishioner in St Columba’s Parish, Edinburgh and at national level has assisted the Bishops of Scotland.

“It is then I am sure you will agree, entirely appropriate that the Holy Father has seen fit to recognise Lord Gill’s exceptional contribution to public life in Scotland and to graciously bestow on him the honour of a Knighthood of the Order of St Gregory the Great.

“It is an award that I am sure will be warmly welcomed by both the Catholic Community and the whole legal profession.”

“It is an honour and a privilege to receive a knighthood from this great Pope,” Lord Gill said. “I was touched by the gracious words of the cardinal at the Red Mass.”

Pic: Paul McSherry

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