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The Bishops Conference of Scotland will host an international Conference in Glasgow on Saturday 1 December 2012 to mark the Church s ˜Year of Faith .

The ˜St. Andrew s Conference which will be attended by over 300 delegates will provide a platform for guest speakers from around the world to address Pope Benedict XVI s call for a new evangelisation.

The speakers will include; Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Professor George Weigel, one of America's leading public intellectuals, and the biographer of the late Pope John Paul II and the papal Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Archbishop Antonio Mennini.

The Conference will be hosted by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, President of the Bishops Conference of Scotland and will be attended by Cardinal Keith O Brien, it will be held in Glasgow s City Chambers, where Depute Lord Provost Gerald Leonard will welcome the delegates.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland said: "I am delighted that two of the most influential voices in the Catholic world will be coming to Scotland to offer their insights on the challenges we face and the solutions we might adopt in re-invigorating the Church and bringing the values of the Gospel to bear on our society.

Archbishop Tartaglia added; Cardinal Pell has been a hugely influential figure in Australian society and a powerful voice in the English-speaking Catholic world for more than a decade, while George Weigel, the biographer of John Paul II has been a highly persuasive and influential commentator on Church and society in the United States and mainland Europe.   The fact that both men were so willing to come to Scotland is for me a sign of hope, a sign that the Catholic Church in Scotland is open for business, confident and prepared for a new effort to re-evangelise our society and culture."

Speaking on the topic From Vatican II to the New Evangelisation , Cardinal Pell will say; During the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church we find a number of dramatically successful examples of reform and renewal

Cardinal Pell will say; we should seek to build upon our natural common ground with our brothers in faith in areas such as the defence of marriage and the family.   The Jewish and Muslim communities are also deeply concerned by the rise of aggressive secularism; in particular, its attempts to redefine marriage and impose a new orthodoxy on the culture, the aim of which is to silence traditional believers and force them to depart from the Public Square.  

Adding; We need secular allies also, especially civil and political leaders.   Even in these troubled times, there remains an enduring respect and admiration for the Church because of its commitment to serving the poor and its contribution to education, health care and human dignity.   This compassion is the practical and public expression of a Catholicism that is free to practise, to grow, to teach and to evangelise.  
 
Cardinal Pell will also point out, that; the Catholic Church provides a quarter of the world s healthcare, is the largest non-government provider of education in the world, and, through its Caritas network, distributes over US$2.6 billion annually in aid to the poor. As other Christian Churches and Communities sadly are struggling to hold on to a coherent apostolic tradition, the depth and fidelity of Catholicism to the roots of Christianity has become heightened.   The beauty and richness of its witness to the person of Jesus Christ in all aspects of human life and society is a compelling answer to the void of secularism.    

Professor George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Centre, a Catholic theologian, one of America's leading public intellectuals, and the biographer of the late Pope John Paul II will also address the Conference.

He will propose that we are living at the end of Counter-Reformation Catholicism and the beginning of Evangelical Catholicism. Arguing that; In the post-World War II period, Catholics experienced a relatively comfortable fit between the culture of the Church and the ambient public culture throughout the regions in which Christianity had been long established

Since then, the culture of the West has become aggressively secular which often manifests itself through a deep hostility to Gospel truth (especially moral truth) and a determination to drive Christians who affirm those truths out of the public square and into a privatized existence on the margins of society .

Professor Weigel will suggest, the Church faces a challenge that is somewhat similar, at least structurally, to the challenge it faced in communist lands during the Cold War years. That challenge cannot be met by timid or lukewarm Catholicism. It can only be met by a robustly evangelical Catholicism that proposes the Gospel in a compelling and courageous way, and that insists that public authorities allow the Church the free space in which to be itself, make its proposal, and offer the service of charity to others.  


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

Note to Editors:

1. You are invited to send a reporter, photographer, camera crew to the Conference.
2. The full text of Cardinal Pell s remarks is shown below (NB: Embargoed 11am, 1 December 2012)

FROM VATICAN II TO THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
Cardinal George Pell
St. Andrew s Conference
Glasgow, 1 December 2012


     The word gospel comes from the Greek word euangelion and Latin term evangelium meaning good news.     Often the term was reserved to important announcements by public officials and is found in the first verse of Mark s gospel.

     We do not speak of Our Lord as an evangelist, although his revealed version of the good news, the Maker s instructions are the teachings we follow.   For us the principal announcements of the good news are found in the four synoptic gospels.

     During the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church we find a number of dramatically successful examples of reform and renewal.   The monastic rule of St. Benedict (480 - 547) eventually produced thousands of monasteries across Europe. And St Columcille s Iona too was part of the monastic renewal that helped bring about the revival and spread of Christianity in Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. The next great wave of renewal was with the Dominican and Franciscan friars in the thirteenth century.

     At its best the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation was an attempt to return to the Scriptures (Henry VIII s problems have a quite different motivation).   I have heard it argued that the Reformation helped to save the Catholic Church by forcing the Catholics to take their religious claims seriously.   The Council of Trent (1545-63) began too late and dragged on too long but eventually produced wonderful fruit especially through the creation of the Tridentine seminary (an adapted model is still used today by most dioceses) and the publication of the Catechism of the Council of Trent.   The Society of Jesus, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, was the leader in the so-called Counter Reformation.

     We should also see the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) as the most spectacular attempt at re-evangelization since the time of the Reformation and the most recent foundation stone on which our present efforts are based.

     The Second Vatican Council was also the most important event in Catholic life since the sixteenth century Council of Trent.   Its teachings and the unexpected aftermaths have changed the Church, especially in the First World of Western Europe, North America and smaller countries like Australia and New Zealand.  

     Yet for most youngsters and many of the middle aged, this Council is about as well known as the Council of Chalcedon.   Only those sixty years and older can remember much about the days of the Latin Mass, high rates of Mass-going and plentiful vocations.   To the extent that they think about it at all, they presume things were then as they are now.  

     Occasionally I have encountered small groups of fervent young Catholics, who covertly lament the Council and gaze nostalgically at a pre Conciliar Golden Age.   I have disappointed them by pointing out that we would all be discomfited in such a return, by the constraints then taken for granted e.g. no ecumenical cooperation, mixed marriages celebrated in a sacristy outside the Church and the absence of, e.g., parish councils and school boards.   Catholic life then was much more clericalised with all leadership positions in Catholic schools and hospitals held by nuns, brothers and a few priests.  

     In Australia at least, while we had many orphanages and refuges, we had very few social welfare services outside the St Vincent de Paul groups and no Caritas agency collecting for development and relief work internationally.   This was a Conciliar development in Australia, although we had been blessed with vigorous societies supporting Catholic missionary activity overseas.  

     The most important document of the Council was the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium , where a Copernican revolution saw the People of God (Chapter 2) treated before the hierarchy and episcopate (Chapter 3).   The recognition of the baptismal dignity of the lay faithful was deeply in accord with the New Testament.   It was also providential for the society which has emerged where hostile pressures have increased so much and are quite beyond the capacity of the reduced number of clergy and religious for effective resistance.   The Second Vatican Council recognized the proper dignity of the baptized.  

     Lumen Gentium also took up the interrupted work of the First Vatican Council and spelt out the role of all the bishops as successors of the apostles, rather than delegates of the Pope, in the doctrine of collegiality (the bishops ruling with and under Peter), which is classically exemplified in an Ecumenical Council and reflected in the regular Synods of Bishops, the last of which dealt with our topic of the New Evangelization.  

     While I will mention later some of the misapplications of the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the World (Gaudium et Spes), the basic doctrine that we engage with all those of good will, seek to cooperate rather than condemn, and participate regularly in the discussions of the Public Square are foundational attitudes for nearly every Catholic today.   One hundred years ago in England, Scotland and Australia our situation was something like that of the Muslims in our communities today (without the violence, except for Northern Ireland).  

     The most obvious day-to-day change took place in the liturgy, where the transition into the vernacular for the celebration of the sacraments was not explicitly mandated by the Council itself.   I suspect that not many of the Council Fathers anticipated that our liturgies would so quickly resemble, at least on the surface, Protestant eucharists rather than the Tridentine Mass.   Pope John XXIII had only expected that a portion of the Mass would be celebrated in the vernacular.  
     
     On that point, it has been pleasing to see, some 40 years later, how the new translation has improved the quality and fidelity of the English text of the liturgy to the Latin original.   More importantly, this more sacral language has helped turn us more towards Transcendence, the worship of the one true God.   Christ should always be at the centre of the Mass, rather than the priest.   As a consequence, I strongly support placing a crucifix between the people and the officiating priest and would support a return to the practice of the celebrant facing east, with his back to the people.   This would make it abundantly clear that whoever is at the centre of the celebration, it is not the priest.  

     All the Conciliar documents were approved by overwhelming majorities of the Council Fathers and were generally the successful fusion of two different and sometimes contrasting ambitions.  

     One group emphasized first of all the return to the Biblical sources, ressourcement , while the other school emphasized the need for aggiornamento , the need to bring the Church up to date.  

     Both movements are to be understood indicatively rather than literally.   No one espoused a strict biblical fundamentalism, while no Catholic became as up to date as the Rev Don Cupitt, an Anglican academic of Cambridge in the sixties who did not believe in God.   A number of theologians (non-Catholic) belonged to the Death of God school.  

     Karl Barth, the distinguished Protestant theologian, deeply admired by Pope Pius XII, asked Pope Paul VI what were the criteria to determine whereby doctrines and practices were to be judged as suitably contemporary or old-fashioned or a step too far.   What does aggiornamento mean?   Accommodation to what? he asked.      

     These contrasting attitudes saw the creation of the theological review Communio as the alternative to the increasingly radical Concilium.   Both orientations were spelling out the consequences of their foundational positions.  

     These tensions continue, if in a muted fashion after the policies of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, between those who follow Pope Benedict in espousing a hermeneutic of continuity, an organic development of doctrine and practice within the tradition and the Bologna School of historical theology, who are suspected of believing in a hermeneutic of rupture , seeing Vatican II as a radical development or departure, somehow standing isolated from the preceding 2000 years of history.   Appeals to the Spirit of Vatican II always make me suspicious because they usually imply that no justification can be found within the texts of the Council for the ideas being announced, and that other more modern criteria are being invoked.

     I add here that there are aspects of both approaches represented at the Council “ ressourcement and aggiornamento “ which are needed and important.  

     The 1960s was initially an age of optimism exemplified in the person of Pope John XXIII.   President de Gaulle in France and Konrad Adenauer in West Germany were strong Catholics and the election of John F. Kennedy as the first Catholic president of the USA electrified the Irish diaspora everywhere in the English-speaking world.  

     The permissive revolution which followed the invention of the contraceptive pill in 1962 had not properly got under way and the social dislocation which accompanied the unpopular war in Vietnam had not reached its peak.   The student uprisings in France and Germany in 1968 followed after the Council, but triggered a whirlwind of revolution in the Catholic world.  

     Pope Paul VI s long delayed decision against artificial contraception in 1968 was a catalyst.   Many realized their exaggerated ambitions for change would not be realized.   10,000 priests around the world left in the pontificate of Pope Paul VI and a larger number of religious.   A number of my contemporaries had been ordained expecting to receive permission to be married later; they were disappointed.      

     Vocations to the priesthood and religious life declined in many Western countries and Catholic life collapsed in countries with an extraordinarily high rate of religious practice and with many missionaries overseas, e.g., Holland and Quebec.     I was fearful in the past that we faced such a prospect of collapse in Australia; but the situation there has been stabilized, although the gains are still fragile.  

     Mixed fruit followed the efforts of the Second Vatican Council at New Evangelization, many of them not intended by the Council and not direct consequences of the Council teachings.              

     Where are we now?   What can we do?  

     Let me try to use the parable of the sower and the seed to elucidate our situation.

     In this parable (Luke 8:4-15) one person scatters the seeds before the furrows are ploughed.   Seeds therefore fall on nearby paths, some on rocky ground.   Other seeds were taken by the birds.   Today with mighty machines we can sow the seeds in the already ploughed furrows and cover them quickly.   These developments mean the enemy too can plant his weeds very efficiently.   Today we can more easily water and fertilize the crops whether they be good or bad.

     Many hardy varieties of genuine wheat have been developed to suit different climates. Not everyone has to join Opus Dei or the Neo Catechumenal Way!   Some brands however are deficient, appear healthy, but produce no seed.   Some forms of Catholic life are contraceptive, where all seems well on the surface, but no new life is produced.   All plants have to be hardy because the pollution in the air is now nearly as bad as it was in the pagan world in Jesus time and they still have to battle the weeds.

     Reading the signs of the times is difficult because majority opinion is not always correct.   We need goals and objectives, following the difficult-to-recognize Spirit rather than being captured by trends, good or bad, because in many, perhaps most, parts of the Western world the Church is still losing ground.    

     In the Western world, all those of us who love the Church cannot afford to ignore this, much less to be in a state of denial.   If we cannot recognize where we are, it is much more difficult to plan for re-evangelization.

     Because we cannot command or call up conversions to Christ, what might we usefully try to do?   Let me suggest some simple measures and the best way to resist hostile pressures.   To reverse decline “ whether it be in sport or religion “ is to insist that the fundamentals are in place.

     First, we must emphasise the importance of faith in the one true God who loves us.   We need to combat intellectually the forces of the new atheism and be confident about what we have to offer in the pursuit of Truth.   This implies a knowledge of philosophy and science, a defence from reason before any appeal to Revelation.        

Second, the crucified Christ and his teachings have to be at the centre of all our catechetical and religious formation work with the young.   Crucifixion Christianity is essential if we are to speak to those who are suffering and those who acutely feel the need for redemption.   The fruits of the resurrection are many times not felt or not observed in day-to-day life.   At the time of the Reformation it was unnecessary to state this, because Christ was central for all the contending parties.   This is not our situation within or outside the Church.   Therefore as an archbishop I began by reforming religious education and the seminary.   It was essential to sequentially and comprehensively explain and promote the importance of core beliefs to audiences which often had little prior formation and no idea of their own basic story.    

No new evangelization is possible without a sound catechesis for the young.   I believe we have made important progress in many parts of Australia in religious education.   In the past our efforts were too often unfocused and misdirected.  

     It is no use teaching fifteen year old boys about the literary forms of the New Testament, when they have no idea about the basic kerygma and could scarcely distinguish a gospel from an epistle.  

     Once upon a time some began catechesis for first grades by talking about the liturgical year rather than emphasizing the gospel stories of Jesus life, death and resurrection.   I recall one young boy, admittedly a bit further along the track than a first grader, who told me that ordinary time in the liturgical year was when nothing happened.  

     On too many occasions in the past we presumed that someone else was teaching the central truths of the baptismal promises; what are described as the four foundations on the last page of our Know, Worship and Love textbooks:   one God, one Redeemer and Son of God, one Church (primarily and substantially) and Jesus call to follow Him by living the two great commandments of love through the essential framework of the Ten Commandments.  

     My third point was well made at a recent meeting of Bishops, when a young bishop pointed out that our views on salvation, on its nature, universality or limits, on the criteria Christ uses in judgement “ this ensemble of views colours our whole approach to Catholic life.

     November is the month when we particularly meditate on the mystery of death and resurrection, on Jesus explicit teaching on the reality of reward and punishment in the next life.   In other words we consider the four last things: death, judgement, heaven, hell.   If the fires of hell are never populated (in our view), then our life is likely to lack a sense of urgency.   If purgatory has lapsed into limbo also, so that we are unconcerned about the necessity of purification before entering into God s presence, then we might be drifting towards supporting an unreflective attitude that heaven is a universal human right.   This could be quite close to a radical agnosticism about life after death, and especially about reward or punishment after death.

Dangerously, we can start to act as though we are a purely this-world organization, where considerations about God count for little.   The closer we come to this extreme the less we should be surprised when people are unconcerned about the call to conversion.

     We certainly understand today that the God who judges us is loving and sympathetic as well as just, but Jesus also said that narrow is the way that leads to salvation (Mt 7:14).  

     We live in the light of eternity, following Christ s call for purity of heart, conversion, genuine love and faith.
     
     My fourth point is that today even in regular Christian formation Christ is too often displaced from the centre, His hard teachings obscured or neglected.   While disinterest is usually the greater problem, we have a whole range of alternatives, e.g. the charism of the founder, global warming, the sustainability of the planet, theorizing about social justice, even the struggle for life rather than stressing the call to repent and believe, to follow our brother the redeemer Jesus Christ the only Son of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; so too misdirected zeal worked to turn our eucharists too often into community celebrations rather than solemn traditional acts of worship.

     Proper worship of God our Father, through Christ His Son, combined with accurate Christian formation, could be described as putting into place the required sociological frameworks for the unpredictable work of the Spirit within our believing families and communities.  

     Liturgy which uplifts us and encourages a contemplation of the Divine is essential.   All Catholics must be helped to understand the importance of reverence for the Eucharist and for that important moment when God unites himself to us through his own self-gift.   It is through this self-gift that we are more fully able to become People of God who can truly live out the New Evangelization.        

     A fifth fundamental.   I repeat that youngsters and their parents from every type of Catholic family, good, bad or indifferent, need to be informed that the Ten Commandments are the indispensable moral framework for all Christians, not just for a few old churchgoers.   The primacy of conscience (a damaging notion when applied to the Word of God) cannot dispense anyone from any of the Ten Commandments.   The Ten Commandments are not like a final examination of ten questions where only six need be attempted.

     Most young Australian Catholics talk like relativists, even when their moral views are correct.   No longer is there any instinctive acceptance of moral truths, except perhaps in ecology or social justice.  

     Moving beyond these fundamentals to grapple with the Catholic forms of the new evangelization, we should acknowledge that Catholicism is not only for saints because sinners of every type and quality have always been part of Catholic history, to our shame.   We need to be doing what we can sociologically for those on the outer edge of the concentric or overlapping circles which make up the Christian community.
     
Few, if any, people fifty years ago expected the dark stain of sexual abuse to have spread so widely across the Church, while varying in extent even within countries.  

It does not need to be said that this is the most important and powerful barrier to the New Evangelization.  

We know in Australia sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has caused deep concern among Catholics and the wider community. It is shameful and shocking that this abuse, with its tragic toll on those who were abused and on their families, was committed by Catholic priests and church workers. That church officials have sometimes failed to deal appropriately with those who have been abused, and with priests and church workers accused of abuse, is deeply disturbing.

We acknowledge the pain that victims and their families have experienced and continue to experience. We express our remorse for past failures.
Again, in Australia at least, survivors and victims have been assisted, received some measure of justice, considerable compassion and many practical helps. However we are committed to doing more and there is much to be done.   Without doubt the press has helped the Church face up to its problems.  

Much still needs to be done in Australia and will be done, but substantial steps have been taken procedurally in the last 16 years and generally these procedures have been followed.  

We would hope that the Church community is purer and stronger in itself after removing much of this criminal moral cancer however the church will remain at the foot of the cross until every cancer cell is excised.

In the English speaking world, where Catholicism is nearly everywhere a minority, after the Second Vatican Council, and especially after Gaudium et Spes, we were properly urged to come out of the ghetto and dialogue with the world.   There is no alternative to this but we overestimated our strength and under-estimated the strength of the enemy, which has exponentially increased because of television, the worlds of entertainment and fashion, and now the internet and the ever-expanding range of instant communications.

Instead of lamenting the helps traditional Catholic life gave across the centuries in cities, towns and villages and somehow rejoicing in small numbers in our hostile world, we need to be working to rebuild our defences, to shore up Catholic identity and practice sociologically rather than insisting on the removal of those surviving props.

     Only Western Protestantism has moved further than Western Catholicism away from the penitential practices of all the good monotheist traditions.   I commend the decision of the English Catholic Bishops to reintroduce the traditional Friday abstinence from meat for both intrinsic reasons (as a help to conversion) and as a sociological marker.

     In one Australian seminary some decades ago the Salve Regina was banned as too divisive and the rosary could not be recited together as a public devotion.   Devotion and prayer to Our Lady constitute one of the identifying marks of genuine Catholicism.

     Some of the older medieval traditions are popular with young people such as prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, which meets their need for silence and recollection, while Benediction is regularly an equally popular encouragement for worship.

     Rediscovered forms of prayer such as silent meditation can also be taught usefully to young children who do not come from regularly worshipping families.   We are teaching this in an increasing number of primary schools in Sydney and to good effect.

     A final point on Family Prayer.   The New Evangelization needs the prayerful contribution of the Ecclesia Domestica.   Encouraging commitment to a simple model proposed by one American bishop of eat together, pray together and go to Mass together has much to commend it.   The Catholic family is the heart of the Church and we need to encourage that heart to have a strong prayerful beat, so its members can be effective witnesses to the New Evangelization.  

     Conclusion

We need allies.   Firstly, religious allies “ we should seek to build upon our natural common ground with our brothers in faith in areas such as the defence of marriage and the family.   The Jewish and Muslim communities are also deeply concerned by the rise of aggressive secularism; in particular, its attempts to redefine marriage and impose a new orthodoxy on the culture, the aim of which is to silence traditional believers and force them to depart from the Public Square.  

In Sydney we are blessed by good relationships with Jewish and Muslim leaders.   Our tenth annual Abrahamic Faiths Conference this year focused on our shared tradition of marriage and the family as the patrimony of humanity .   We are grateful to God for the opportunities we have to work and stand together, especially on these issues of marriage, the family and religious freedom.  

The questions of the broader interaction of Islam with secularism and with the Catholic Church remain to be determined.   We hope that terrorist violence will regularly diminish throughout the West (this is not inevitable) and that interfaith cooperation on some religious issues might be possible.   New habits of mind will be necessary.      

We need secular allies also, especially civil and political leaders.   Even in these troubled times, there remains an enduring respect and admiration for the Church because of its commitment to serving the poor and its contribution to education, health care and human dignity.   This compassion is the practical and public expression of a Catholicism that is free to practise, to grow, to teach and to evangelise.  
 
Earlier this year, I was invited to address the annual scientific meeting of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.   I was given the topic, Is Catholicism compatible with women s health?   The audience seemed a little surprised but responded warmly to the figures I cited, demonstrating that the Catholic Church provides a quarter of the world s healthcare, is the largest non-government provider of education in the world, and, through its Caritas network, distributes over US$2.6 billion annually in aid to the poor.        

For a variety of reasons, people today respond more positively to witnesses, rather than teachers.   By drawing on the power of the Church s witness and its living out of the teachings of Christ, especially the Beatitudes and the Commandments, we are more likely to be taken seriously by those within and outside of the Church.                            

The great Scottish novelist Dame Muriel Spark once explained her conversion by saying, If you're going to do a thing, you should do it thoroughly. If you're going to be a Christian, you may as well be a Catholic.   In these times when the secular vision of human life is becoming more and more impoverished and unfulfilling, only a religious vision which thoroughly and intelligently contrasts with this poverty will attract those seeking God, identity and belonging.  

As other Christian Churches and Communities sadly are struggling to hold on to a coherent apostolic tradition, the depth and fidelity of Catholicism to the roots of Christianity has become heightened.   The beauty and richness of its witness to the person of Jesus Christ in all aspects of human life and society is a compelling answer to the void of secularism.    

New techniques alone cannot improve our situation, although we have 70,000 members of Xt3, our interactive website in Sydney.   Modern and effective methods of communication are helpful but insufficient in themselves.   They produce sympathy and some interest, rather than the deep personal conversion Christ invites us to make.   Christians are called to go deeper:   to believe.    

God is with us.   We have the basic truths about life.   We know and access God s forgiveness and rejoice in the promise of eternal life.  

The living witness of the Church throughout the world continues to proclaim that only in Christ does man discover the fullness of his humanity and that it is only through Christ that he is redeemed.   May this witness give us a renewed and greater confidence to invite all men, women and children to that personal encounter with him that is the essence of the New Evangelization.                

The Way Ahead

     We all know what lies at the heart of the New Evangelization, that it is not like the higher mathematics of rocket science; beyond the reach of most of us.   Rather, the New Evangelization is like losing weight.   We know this is achieved by eating less and exercising.   The challenge is to do what is required and, in Australia at least, to convince many that they should lose weight!  

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Catholic Church suggests Hate Crime review, offers opportunity to consolidate rather than separate legislation

| 29th November 2017 | Blogging

Catholic Church suggests Hate Crime review, offers opportunity to consolidate rather than separate legislation     Church comments come in response to the Scottish Government’s Review of Hate Crime legislation, chaired by Lord Bracadale: http://www.gov.scot/About/Review/Hate-Crime-Legislation     The review is charged with considering whether existing hate crime law represents the most effective approach for the justice system to deal with criminal conduct motivated by hatred, malice, ill-will or prejudice.     Commenting on the review, Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, Anthony Horan who submitted a detailed response on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said:     “This process is an opportunity, ultimately, to ensure that the legislation is just and that every group is protected. This does not have to be a “zero sum game” where one group “wins” and another “loses” but rather could be an opportunity to rationalise and simplify legislation. A desirable outcome would be a single aggravation such as section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003. Applied to all protected characteristics equally, it would be a simple and straightforward “message.” which would foster harmony in that all groups would be treated equally in the eyes of the law.”     Mr Horan added;     “It is important that any legislation, preserves judicial discretion recognising that Scotland has a Criminal Justice System populated by highly trained prosecutors and Judges. They are best placed to assess the strengths and weaknesses of individual cases and should be free to do so in the absence of their decision being “politicised” by legislation which creates a perceived “scandal” where none exists.”     The Church response also highlights Scotland’s long history of anti-Catholicism and urges Government recognition be given to the historic roots of present conflicts. Pointing out that for over twenty years successive Scottish Governments have dedicated significant resources into programmes and projects designed to tackle the symptoms of sectarianism. The submission adds, that in the same period the growth in such funding has been matched by an increase in religious hate crime.       The response notes, that “an opportunity exists to acknowledge that anti-Catholic sectarianism is qualitatively and quantitatively different from other types of religious hate crime in Scotland. Instances of anti-Catholicism outnumber all other type of religious hate crime combined, in a country where Catholics represent only 16% of the population. This is a product of the Reformation Parliament of 1560 and its condemnation of Catholic doctrine and worship including the ban on the celebration of all Catholic sacraments. No other religion or belief has ever been so proscribed in Scotland, the legacy of this proscription continues to the present day. A recommendation by this review, that the Scottish Government consider issuing a collective, retrospective apology could go some way towards building, repairing and renewing bonds between communities harmed by historical wrongdoing. It could also be the first step in addressing historical iniquities.”     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 Note to Editors: The full text of the response to the Hate Crime Review, is shown below: Response ID ANON-T58X-H9EZ-S Submitted to Independent Review of Hate Crime Legislation in Scotland Submitted on 2017-11-22 14:43:00  What do we mean by hate crime legislation and why does it exist?  Do you consider that the working definition, discussed in this chapter, adequately covers what should be regarded as hate crime by the law of Scotland?  Yes Please give reasons for your answer.:  The definition discussed in this chapter is only ...

Archbishop Leo Cushley delivers Time for Reflection in Scottish Parliament

| 28th November 2017 | Blogging

Delivering the Time for Reflection in the Scottish Parliament today, (Tuesday 28 November 2017), Archbishop Leo Cushley, the Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh celebrated Scotland’s Patron, Saint Andrew.   Commenting on the legacy of St Andrew he said: “the university town, his name, and his flag, all remind us of something that’s been here, doing a lot of good for a lot of people, for many centuries: and that is the civilizing influence of fair laws, of just courts, of a belief in objective truth, of standards of behaviour, of mutual respect, of helping others who need a hand.”   “No matter your beliefs”, he added, “there are still one or two of these things that we can all agree are worth holding on to.”   Commenting on Archbishop Cushley’s reflection, Anthony Horan, Director of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office said:     “As we approach the feast of St Andrew it is fitting that Archbishop Cushley be invited to deliver the Time for Reflection. It is important that as a society we honour our saints and there is no doubt that St Andrew has a special place in Scottish hearts.     “I am personally delighted to see our Catholic bishops in the Scottish Parliament and I am extremely grateful to the Presiding Officer and his team for their warm welcome and kind hospitality. It is also a fitting opportunity to thank all those politicians who work for the common good of our society, particularly our Catholic MSPs who commit themselves to loving service in an increasingly testing environment.”     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: Full text of Archbishop Cushley’s Time for Reflection is copied below. Time for Reflection by Archbishop Leo Cushley As we all know, 30 November, just around the corner, is St Andrew’s Day.  It’s our national day, just as the English choose to celebrate St George, the Irish St Patrick and the Welsh St David. The Welsh found a local lad to celebrate as their national patron; the English have an Armenian soldier, popular among the Crusaders of the high middle ages; the Irish chose a Briton, maybe even from what is now Scotland; and the Scots have a Galilean fisherman.   Who got the best patron? Well, the English picked someone brave and chivalrous; the Welsh picked someone holy; the Irish picked someone fiery and outspoken; and we picked… a fisherman.  Why a fisherman?  Well, I have a theory, and it’s nothing to do with smokies: so, get comfortable, because here it comes.   You see, the English used to have St Peter as their national patron, and he was the first Pope.  At that time, the Scots had St Columba as their national patron; good local choice, but not quite up to competing with the first Pope; so, the Scots changed their national patron to St Andrew.  Now, Andrew wasn’t the first pope, but he was the first man to be called to follow Jesus.  And in the middle ages, that counted for something… Over a thousand years ago, his relics were brought to the town known now St Andrews, and the kings and people of this country built a cathedral in his honour there.  I’m told that, for centuries, St Andrew’s Cathedral was the largest building in the whole of Scotland, and pilgrims came from all over Europe to visit it.   Today, we’re still proud of Andrew, but in a vague, distant way. Yet he, the university town, his name, and his flag, all remind us of something that’s been here, doing a lot of good for a lot of people, for many centuries: and that is the civilizing influence of fair laws, of just courts, of a belief in objective truth, of standards of behaviour, of mutual respect, of helping others who need a hand.  And that’s probably the best thing about having Andrew as national patron: no matter your beliefs, there are stil...

Scottish Bishop to visit Calais migrant camp

| 27th November 2017 | Blogging

Scottish Bishop to visit Calais migrant camp.Bishop William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway, and President of Justice and Peace Scotland, will travel to Calais with Danny Sweeney, Justice and Peace Scotland’s Social Justice Co-ordinator, on 28th and 29th November, to the visit the migrant camp there. The visit is in unity with the work of the Catholic community in Calais, along with many others, and in solidarity with those in Calais seeking asylum and safety from situations of persecution and conflict.The Justice and Peace Scotland representatives will be guests of the Maria Stobkova Catholic Worker House in Calais, where local authorities have imposed measures to limit the distribution of food, provisions for showers, and possession of tents for migrants, to prevent the establishment of another camp.The visit is in response to increasing numbers of predominately unaccompanied young people returning following the destruction of the migrant camp, usually referred to as ‘the jungle’ in October last year. Speaking ahead of the visit Bishop Nolan said;“Though the migrant camp has been removed from Calais, and the media have moved on, there are still vulnerable young people there, unaccompanied children. Our visit is to see at first hand the plight of these children and to highlight the need for the British and French governments to care for them not neglect them.”Danny Sweeney said:“The situation in Calais, and other areas of northern France should be a national shame to the UK. We take in far fewer refugees than other European nations, particularly the countries which border conflict regions who bear the brunt of the current situation. “Pope Francis has recently reminded church and political leaders across Europe that we have to reflect seriously on Jesus’s words ‘I was a stranger, and you welcomed me’. To leave these children forgotten and abandoned in Europe, at risk of abuse, exploitation, and modern slavery is a damning indictment of our country. As we approach the season of Advent, all of us need to remember who we’re seeing when we set up our nativity cribs - a displaced, migrant family searching for shelter, who had to flee the powers of the state to Egypt to keep Jesus safe.”Bishop Nolan is undertaking this visit in order to witness first-hand the work being done to support young migrant and asylum seekers in Calais by the Catholic community and others, and to meet with those living in Calais seeking sanctuary. The visit is also to express solidarity with the young people who appear to have been abandoned by both French and British governments, and raise the profile of this issue in both public and political discourse in Scotland. Bishop Nolan will be joined in Calais by Bishop Paul McAleenan who chairs the English and Welsh Bishops’ Office for Migration Policy.Honor Hania, Chair, Justice and Peace Scotland, said "As a strongly prolife organisation, Justice and Peace Scotland has watched with growing concern the situation for refugees in and around Calais, with especial concern for the children. We hope this visit will raise awareness of their plight and that something positive and practical can be done to help.”Notes to editors:1. For further information, contact: Daniel Sweeney - on 07891579831 oroffice@justiceandpeacescotland.org.uk Tel : 0141 333 0238Facebook : Justice and Peace Scotland Twitter : @JandPScotland2. A background briefing on the Calais camp is shown below.ENDSPeter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 5 St. Vincent Place Glasgow G1 2DH 0141 221 116807968 122291 pk@scmo.org www.scmo.orgBriefingBackground(This background summary is taken from the Human Rights Watch report ‘Like Living in Hell’; Police abuses against child and adult migrants in Calais, July 2017 .)Until the end of October 2016, a sprawling, squalid shantytown on the edge of Calais, known colloquially as “the Jungle,” held between 6,000 and 10,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, including many unaccom...