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| | News Releases, Blogging
6 March
Mar 6
6th March 2018

The abusive criticism aimed at politicians like Elaine Smith and Tim Farron might be enough to put Christians off political office for good, warns Anthony Horan, Director of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office in The Scotsman.     This follows recent derision of Elaine Smith’s appointment as shadow cabinet secretary for the eradication of poverty and inequality, which some have claimed is untenable because she voted against the redefinition of marriage in 2014.     Mr Horan echoes Pope Francis’ concerns that there is a sustained and ongoing “persecution” of traditional religion.     “For dissenters like Elaine Smith the persecution tends to take the form of bullying and abuse, some of which is obvious and some of which is a little more insidious”, he writes.     He argues that a secular, allegedly progressive religion has taken hold in Scotland attempting to convince people, particularly the young, that it is the only belief system that guarantees freedom; “that its tolerance knows no bounds. The truth is that it guarantees neither”.        He calls on politicians and people of all faiths and none to return to the basics and recognise “the inherent dignity of the human person and the common good”, and to encourage and support those who sacrifice a much easier life to uphold these values and ideals in public office.   Full text of the Friends of the Scotsman article is copied below.      ENDS   Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org  www.scmo.org       Notes to Editors   1. An image of Anthony Horan is available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/139632090@N07/28347749242/in/album-72157670624194861/   2. Full text:     Friends of the Scotsman by Anthony Horan, Director, Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office     The thought police are on the prowl once again, this time criticising the Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard for giving Elaine Smith the portfolio for the eradication of poverty and inequality. Mr Leonard was challenged publicly on his choice and criticism has inevitably followed.     Elaine Smith, an MSP for Central Region, voted against the redefinition of marriage and this, it seems, is unforgivable. Like Tim Farron, Mrs Smith must now prepare herself for the very real possibility of a distasteful, humiliating and painful public inquisition until she is dethroned from her shadow cabinet post and perhaps even forced out of political office altogether. Her crime was to break from the stifling political orthodoxy by which we are all bound.     Even some politicians have taken to social media to join the throng of critics anxious to question Mr Leonard’s judgement and to attack Mrs Smith. Social media, by its very nature, painlessly facilitates the mob culture, giving it a soap box to spew forth intolerant attitudes with the sole intention of damaging anyone who strays from the orthodoxy. It is, in many respects, a secular progressive religion; its doctrine is fundamentalist, imposing on everyone ridicule and abuse if they do not adhere. This new religion also unashamedly clambers for a favoured place in officialdom, seeking favourable legislation and government policy. But unlike other religions, there is little room for forgiveness. It is a zealous faith and it brooks no dissent.       Pope Francis recently spoke of a “polite persecution” of traditional religion. There is indeed a persecution, but it is not necessarily polite. In fact, it is quite the opposite. For dissenters like Elaine Smith the persecution tends to take the form of bullying and abuse, some of which is obvious and some of which is a little more insidious. But it is bullying nonetheless.       The new orthodoxy simply wants to silence those who might hold a view contrary to its doctrine. For example, Elaine Smith has in the pas...

| | News Releases, Blogging
23 February
Feb 23
23rd February 2018

In a new national initiative, the Director of the Catholic Church’s Parliamentary Office Anthony Horan has written to Scotland’s Catholic priests asking them to encourage their parishioners to get involved in politics and to make sure politicians are aware of what’s happening in their parishes.       The call to greater political action provides each parish in Scotland with full contact details of their MSP’s and MP’s and suggests inviting local representatives to events such as special Masses, charity events, coffee mornings, and youth clubs to make them as much a part of parish life as possible.        Commenting on the letter, Mr. Horan said:       “The Catholic parish is the centerpiece of the community and it exists to serve all people, including feeding the poor, ministering to the sick, accompanying the lonely, and engaging with young people”.       Mr Horan added:       “Building positive relationships between parishes and elected representatives, will help reveal the truth about the immensely positive contribution the Catholic Church makes to Scottish society”.       ENDS       Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org  www.scmo.org     Notes to Editors:     An image of Anthony Horan is available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/139632090@N07/28347749242/in/album-72157670624194861/   2. The letters will be sent to all of Scotland’s 500 Catholic parishes.   3. Full text of the letter is copied below:     Dear Father   Catholic Parliamentary Office     I refer to the above agency of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and I am pleased to enclose some leaflets telling you a little more about the work of the office.       I am keen to increase the level of involvement of Catholics in political life, and in relation to matters of both national and local interest.     The primary purpose of this letter is to invite your parish to engage with local politicians and consider making them as much a part of parish life as possible. For example, inviting them to parish events such as special Masses, charity events, coffee mornings, and youth clubs. You may also want to contact them to make them aware of parish initiatives which serve the community such as the activities of St Vincent de Paul, food banks and so on.      I believe that it is incredibly important for Parliament to know about the great work being done in our local parishes and the most efficient way to do this is to involve elected representatives at a local level and to make them feel part of the parish community, irrespective of whether or not they are Catholic. Your MSP or MP is also able to put forward motions in Parliament and this can be a very useful tool for raising awareness of local matters, such as the success of a St Vincent de Paul project.     I have enclosed a list of your local MSPs and your local MP. If you haven’t already done so I would encourage you or a representative of the parish to make contact with them. I also invite you to join our Catholic Parliamentary Office mailing list to receive our monthly e-newsletter and information on campaigns which might be of interest to you and your parishioners. You can subscribe to the mailing list via our website at rcpolitics.org or by emailing office@rcpolitics.org and entering ‘Subscribe’ in the subject line.       I would also be delighted to hear any feedback you might have in relation to contact you have with politicians.     In the meantime, if I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me using the details, below.     Yours sincerely     Anthony Horan Director...

| | News Releases, Blogging
9 February
Feb 9
9th February 2018

The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples has appointed Fr Vincent Lockhart as the National Director for Scotland of the Pontifical Mission Societies (Missio Scotland). Announcing the appointment, Bishop Joseph Toal, the Bishop of Motherwell said:     “I am pleased to announce that Fr Vincent Lockhart has been appointed by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples as the National Director for Scotland of the Pontifical Mission Societies (Missio Scotland). Fr Vincent has been acting Director for some time and it is good that his five-year term of Office has been confirmed by the Holy See.”       Bishop Toal added;     “The bishops gratefully acknowledge the dedication and commitment of Fr Tom Welsh to the work of Missio Scotland until his untimely death last year.”     Commenting on his appointment Fr. Lockhart said:     “I feel very honoured and grateful to have been appointed as the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Missio Scotland, and look forward to serving God and the Church in this role together with the bishops, the diocesan directors and the staff of Missio.      Missio is the Pope’s personal mission charity and is an expression of the fact that the Church is a family.  The work of Missio Scotland is to deepen that family bond between the Church here in Scotland and the Church in those countries where it is in need of our spiritual and material support. I place my trust in Pope Francis' prayers and ask for those of the Catholic community of Scotland."   ENDS   Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org  www.scmo.org   Notes to Editors   Bio: Fr Vincent Lockhart   Fr Vincent Lockhart has been the parish priest of St Monica’s in Coatbridge since 2003 and is the diocesan director for Missio in Motherwell Diocese. In June 2016, he was asked by the bishops to carry out a caretaker role of Missio Scotland until a new national director was appointed.   Born and brought up in the west and north of Scotland, he was ordained a priest in 1983 for Motherwell Diocese after working for a year as a deacon in Cameroon, West Africa. After ordination he returned to Cameroon. In all he spent 16 years living with the Bangwa, Mundani and Bayang peoples in a remote area in the mountains and rain forest in the south western part of the country. As well as being involved in normal parish work and youth ministry, he ran 12 primary schools and was engaged in road and bridge building projects.   In the mid-1990s he studied at Edinburgh University and gained an M.Sc in African Studies and an M.Th. in the study of Non-Western Christianity with a particular focus on social change and inculturation....

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