BY Ian Dunn | September 21 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Scottish bishops prepare for Year of Faith to begin

Cardinal O’Brien and Bishop Toal of Argyll and the Isles speak of the need for religious freedom and of plans for the Year of Faith at the investiture of Bishop Toal to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre

Cardinal Keith O’Brien has said that Scottish Catholics must ‘not just live our Faith but open that Faith to others,’ during the Year of Faith that begins next month.

Speaking at a Mass to mark the investiture of Bishop Joseph Toal of Argyll and the Isles to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre at St Columba’s Cathedral in Oban last Saturday, the cardinal said the upcoming Year of Faith would call upon all Catholics to embrace the New Evangelisation.

“We are looking forward to the start of the Year

of Faith on October 11 and are working at present in putting together national and diocesan programmes,” Bishop Toal added. “A pastoral letter will be released shortly.”

Year of Faith

“The Year of Faith will commemorate the celebration of 50 years since the Second Vatican Council—as well as commemorating also the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church some 20 years ago,” Cardinal O’Brien said. “The Pope in his own words intends this year as the ‘summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one saviour of the world’— and is also enlisting the help of the recently formed Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation.”

Bishop Toal said the ‘lovely celebration’ at the investiture had been a welcome aperitif for a Year of Faith which he said would be ‘a time of blessing and growth for the Church in Scotland.’ He added that Scotland’s bishops hope that their letter and programmes ‘will stimulate a full and fruitful participation in the Year of Faith in our parishes, schools and Catholic bodies.

“It should be a good stimulus for our commitment to the New Evangelisation which the Synod of Bishops is about to explore,” he said.

Special role

The cardinal said that the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, which Bishop Toal had just joined, would have a special role to play in this ‘witnessing the Kingdom of God, and spreading the Church, as well as working for charity with the same profound spirit of faith and love.’

The cardinal added that Argyll and the Isles Diocese was preparing to mark a special anniversary of particular relevance to the New Evangelisation.

“We are preparing to celebrate the 1450th anniversary of the arrival of St Columba on the Island of Iona,” he said. “While we honour St Ninian of Galloway as being the first missionary to bring the faith to this land of Scotland we know that St Columba of Ireland and the monks who travelled with him to Scotland were not far behind in bringing the Christian message to Scotland, especially to this west coast.”

Scottish Catholics must now follow that example, the cardinal said.

“As the ‘Door of Faith’ was opened for us here in our nation almost 1500 years ago by St Columba of Iona, with that small group of enthusiastic men he was imitating the apostolate of Jesus Christ with His first 12 Apostles,” he said. “The challenge to them was enormous but they were indeed people of good will who were inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ Himself and were only too enthusiastic in their task of a ‘New Evangelisation’ in their time.”

Then and now

As St Columba spread the Word of God more than a millennium ago, so today’s Catholics must spread the Faith in a hostile environment, the cardinal said.

“This is what we are called upon to do at this present time, inspired by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, we now are called upon not just to live our Faith but to open that Faith to others,” he added. “Our enthusiasm must take on practical parochial actions whereby we show the generations which are following us that the call of the Gospel is alive for us and is being put in to practice in every way possible.”

The cardinal also said that he hoped to see many of those present in Rome next year taking part in the ‘pilgrimage of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre from all over the world to Pope Benedict XVI, the Successor of St Peter, on the knights pilgrimage to Rome during this Year of Faith in just one year’s time.’

Bishop Toal said his investiture to the order had been ‘beautifully celebrated’ over a number of days, beginning at St Columba’s Catherdal in Oban with a ‘Vigil on Friday evening, then the investiture Mass on Saturday followed by the Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, finishing with a pilgrimage to Iona on Monday.’

The bishop said he had long been aware of the order’s work due to its pilgrimages to the Royal Scots College in Salamanca and had been delighted to accept the invitation to join.

“Since I became bishop, I have been invited on a number of occasions to become a member both by the Scottish Lieutenant and the members in Oban,” he said. “I accepted the invitation as I have been impressed by the spirituality which draws us to the person of Christ in the Paschal Mystery, and also by the order’s commitment to supporting the Christian communities in The Holy Land, often recommended to all the bishops.”


Pic: Anthony MacMillan

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