May 13 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

11-ARCHBISHOP-@-KIRKING

A call for Scottish politicians, and the rest of us, to listen to God

This week's SCO editorial

The reopening of the Scottish Parliament was marked on Tuesday by the traditional Kirking ceremony, and by the words of Archbishop Mario Conti who preached at the event.

Archbishop Conti and Cardinal Keith O’Brien have offered their congratulations to the newly elected Scottish Government and MSPs. However both senior Scottish clergymen have also pointed out the value and importance of the Church’s role in the public square, and the need for an ethical, moral foundation for political decisions.

Prior to the Scottish Parliamentary elections, the next Scottish Government was challenged by Church spokesman Peter Kearney to tackle anti-Catholic sectarianism following news of letter bombs to high profile Catholics and Cardinal O’Brien’s receipt of a bullet through the post. However a fringe legal group has looked at these same events and come to a very different conclusion: that Catholics are themselves to blame for sectarianism because of religious education.

Sectarianism was back in the news this week because a legal campaign group has urged the Scottish Government to ‘confront and counteract sectarianism’ and create a clear division between church and state through ‘ending religious instruction and denominational schools’ which are publicly funded. The group made this claim in spite of the fact Catholic education is supported across the political spectrum and protected by law.

While Mr Kearney’s belief that the legal group’s view was ‘so fatuous that it really doesn’t merit a response,’ and Michael McGrath’s—director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service—point that it was ill-informed on the subject is reassuring, nonetheless such accusations against Catholic education are a recurring argument in the debate on anti-Catholic sectarianism which our society continues to wrestle with today.

Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell’s insight was illuminating when he told the SCO: “The real enemy of all religious people is secularism which breeds sectarianism and those who espouse it and propagate it are Christianity’s greatest foes.”

We do not have to just hope, or indeed only pray, that the Scottish Parliament will listen to this voice of reason. Why not tell your MSPs you expect them to listen?

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