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Stronger in faith in 2014

The Strong in Faith online discussion forum was launched at the beginning of the Year of Faith in 2012.

The aim of this project, as well as bringing together individuals, is to provide a platform for young Catholics and create links between the different communities of young Catholics around Scotland: the university chaplaincies, the movements, or the young adult groups.

Since its launch, Aidan Michael Cook has taken this project for young Catholics from strength to strength with a great deal of help, support and participation—incorporating Faith in Action, helping to organise a conference and introducing more than one discussion thread a week.

The Year of Faith came to an end last November, but the need to build its legacy further, and continue to evangelise, remains. So if you haven’t visited Strong in Faith for a while, or ‘liked’ a topic rather than leaving a comment and joining in the debate, why not take another look at https://www.facebook.com/scostronginfaith Here are some of the topics previously covered, and some of the points made. Why not suggest new topics and get involved?


Q: How can we deal with a popular culture promoting values so different from our own?

EMERSON STEVENS, Strathclyde University: I think the best thing to bear in mind, when dealing with particularly obstinate or even downright antagonistic individuals, is the old adage ‘actions speak louder than words.’ In these circumstances, rather than treating the matter as a lost cause, we must take special care to live out our own Faith as best we can without becoming false or plastic, all the while recognising that these people were created in the image of God, and praying constantly for their conversion.

CHRISTINE GLEN, Strathclyde University: Everyone is entitled to an opinion, as noted when we were asked about what faith is and what we hope this Year of Faith would bring. Emerson’s point is the most used and also I believe most valid, even Jesus advocates this in the parable of the goats and sheep. “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” (Matthew 25:31‒46)…Faith is a gift given by God, not everyone will receive this gift but we will all receive something from God if we go looking. As St Paul states: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance.”


Q: How should a Catholic approach the issue of Scottish independence?

CHRIS McLAUGHLIN, Glasgow University: Catholic social teaching has subsidiarity as a core principle. This is the idea that authority is best placed as close to the people as possible. Scottish independence seems to be in accordance with this idea.

Also, I think if we are to assess the Catholicity or otherwise of independence then we should subject the union to at least the same degree of scrutiny.

It should be remembered that the union was a Protestant project devised in part as a military alliance between two Protestant nations against the Catholic counter-Reformation—to secure the Protestant crown against the perceived threat from Catholic France and Spain, and as a coalition for the building of empire.  I find it difficult to find a coherent Catholic defence of either of these objectives.


Q: What can Catholics do to defend marriage?

CHRISTINE GLEN, Strathclyde University: Marriage must be shown to work. A married couple must be an example of how, if two people love each other, they can be united in their Faith and trust. Young people need married couples to be a light of how Christian relationships can still work in a world of divorce and separation. Otherwise, how can we ourselves promote how positive and glorious a Sacrament is to those who are called to the married vocation?

Gerald Bonner, Strathclyde University: As Christine says, we need to show what marriage actually is. The root of the current debate is a flawed understanding of heterosexual relationships. Contraception is so deeply ingrained in our culture that the idea that marriage is oriented towards procreation is often met with total incomprehension.


Q: 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 in Scotland?

GABRIELE FRANCHI DE CAVALIERI:  I think that one way of doing this is to ‘invest’ more on young people otherwise the number of people in spiritual need will just keep increasing.

How many parishes in Scotland offer specific and constant opportunities for young people to develop their Faith? The humble and successful work that Fr John Keenan is doing at Glasgow University should be, more or less, ‘copied and pasted’ in other parishes.


Q ‘What do you love most about the Church?’

Juls Tapia: Her infinite love.

Andrew McManus: Her subtle wisdom.

Ann Carmen Harkin: It’s God’s home.

Daniel Mallon: Extra Ecclesiam nulla Salus!


— Have your say at https://www.facebook.com/scostronginfaith


— Extracts from the Strong in Faith debates are printed each week in The Scottish Catholic Observer


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