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7-ECSU

Faith in Action: The skewed media perception of the Church

The thriving Catholic community and faith in action on university campuses flies in the face of the gloomy picture of our Faith so often, and in particular recently, painted by the media, according to Niall O Coinleáin, president of Edinburgh Catholic Student Union

The Church has been in the media even more than usual in the past few months however there seems to be a continual theme of opinion which claims the Catholic Church is in trouble; wracked with scandal and plagued with dwindling congregations. The people making these claims have obviously never visited St Albert the Great Chaplaincy in the Edinburgh University’s George Square campus, which is home to Catholic Student’s Union.

Arguably the most active society in the university, often having more events than there are days of the week and a common room which is home to continuous tea, coffee, conversation and debate from post-Lauds breakfast group to the discussion which extends long after any of the evening ‘Faith Matters’ talks or apologetics groups that the Dominican chaplains who own and run the chaplaincy organise. The CSU has out grown even itself and many smaller sub groups have started to form with the St Albert the Great Graduate Society (STAGGS) now in its third year and a Praise and Worship Group growing in numbers week-on-week. The CSU has a society social every week after Mass which varies from guest speakers, chocolate heaven, talent shows and charity fundraisers.

We, like the rest of the world, were recently gripped with an extreme case of Papal fever. Thanks to the creation of the PNS (Papal Notification System), which texted society members the moment white smoke rose from the Vatican Chimney, the rapid redecoration of the common room with Papal bunting and the swift creation of a big screen meant a group of nearly 50 students gathered in time for Pope Francis to be revealed. It was very good of the conclave to elect Pope Francis on a Wednesday as it aligned perfectly with Mid-Week Meal (MWM) our community dinner where two or three members cook for the society and is continually at capacity.

The society has been going from strength to strength in recent years and member involvement makes the annual committee election a hard-fought race, perhaps paralleled only by the recent US presidential election, the growth and strengthening is thanks to the pastoral care and unequalled hospitality of the Dominicans and Mass in the new St Albert the Great Chapel is often standing room only. The chapel is also receiving critical acclaim in the wider society, having recently been shortlisted for Scottish Civic Trust My Place awards.

However, it is very easy to be Catholic while drinking tea and chatting to other society members, however Christ called us to be in the world but not of the world. A motion recently brought to the Edinburgh University Students Association called for its affiliation to the abortion rights organisation was defeated by a joint effort from the CSU the Life Society and the Christian Union. The motion was brought forward again and passed three weeks later, you have to love student democracy, but the affiliation has since been proven unlawful. Although the outcome was disappointing, it was superb to see so many young Catholics stand up for their beliefs and not be afraid to voice the truth even when it is an unpopular view.

The CSU is often a resource called upon by other societies too, the recent defeat of the motion “Religion is no longer a force for good in society” which was opposed by a CSU speaker at an Edinburgh Uni Debates Union event shows how key groups such as the CSU are in educating young Catholics in order to help spread Christ’s message.

—Faith in Action is a fortnightly news round up from our Catholic university chaplaincies.

—Strong in Faith is a fortnightly open online forum for young Catholics. The current question is: Pope Francis is calling for the Church to ‘go outside itself’ and reach out to those in spiritual need. How can we put this into practice?. Have your say at http://www.facebook.com/scostronginfaith

 

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