Bishops ask for prayers during Synod

The Bishops of Scotland have asked for prayers during next month's Synod in Rome.

They have been at the Royal Scots College in Salamanca for their annual service week, reflecting on the working document for the Synod.

It follows a meeting of diocesan Synodality representatives recently in Airdrie.

A Facebook post on the page of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland said: "(The Bishops) agreed that this is an opportunity to respond to the pastoral reality of the Church, praying together and listening to the Holy Spirit.

"At the heart of the process is prayer, discernment and openness.

"The People of God - lay faithful, religious and clergy - on every continent, needs to be involved in this Synodal process."

It continued: "The Bishops of Scotland ask all Catholics in Scotland, and Scots of all pray for the Synod on Synodality especially during the month of October.

"All are asked to pray, every day of the Synod, the following prayer which has been invoked at Church Councils over the centuries, Ad Sumus Sancte Spiritus (see below).

Guided by Holy Spirit

Bishop Brian McGee (Argyll & the Isles) who chairs the Bishops’ Conference Synodality Group, will represent the Church in Scotland at the Synod (hear what he's said about the Synod here).

The Bishops said: "The benefits of modern technology permit everyone to participate and perhaps, for the first time, allow the fullest expression of the reforms of the second Vatican Council to bear fruit in the Church.

"At the heart of the process is prayer, discernment and openness.

From left Archbishop William Nolan (Glasgow), Archbishop Leo Cushley (St Andrews & Edinburgh), Bishop Joseph Toal (Motherwell), Fr William McFadden (Galloway), Bishop Brian McGee (Argyll & the Isles, Bishop John Keenan (Paisley) and Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB (Aberdeen).

"The beauty, goodness and truth of our Catholic faith cannot be contained by one opinion or ideology.

It appeals to the world to let the Holy Spirit guide us to the Jesus Christ, our way, our truth and our life.

"God knows what He wants for the Church more than we do.

"Through spiritual conversation we can discover and cherish that gift of faith which is open to all people of good will.

The journey of faith is rarely a straight road but requires patience and mutual support.

"It also treasures and is directed by the journey taken before us, by saints and sinners, a journey of forgiveness and renewal."

Ad Sumus Sancte Spiritus:

We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life
and not stray from the way of truth and what is right.
All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever.

Scotland’s Bishops congratulate Pope Francis

Scotland’s Catholic bishops have sent their congratulations to Pope Francis on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his election.

Bishop Hugh Gilbert, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said: “We commemorate the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis and give thanks to God for the gift of his ministry.

"We are thankful to him for inviting the Church 'to embark on a new chapter of evangelism', for reminding us of the need for mercy and for urging us to care for our common home through the safe stewardship of our environment.

The Scottish Bishops are currently meeting at the Schoenstatt Retreat Centre outside Glasgow.

On Monday they were joined by Bishop Czeslaw Kozon of the Nordic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Ukrainian  Greek Catholic Church, Bishop Paul Mason, Bishop of the Forces and Mar Joseph Srampickal Bishop for the Syro-Malabar faithful.

Bishop Gilbert added: "Together with them we offered Mass for our Holy Father and his intentions. On behalf of Scotland’s Catholic community we offer the Holy Father our warmest congratulations and the promise of our prayers.”

Article from Scottish Catholic Media Office. Image @SCMO14

Bishops' prayers for persecuted Church in Nicaragua

The Bishops' Conference of Scotland has called  issued the following statement on the situation in Nicaragua:

"Alarmed by the increased persecution of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, following the arrest and detention without trial of clergy and the summary closure of eight radio and television stations run by the Catholic Church, the Bishops’ of Scotland express their solidarity with the Bishops’ Conference of Nicaragua.

"We offer the promise of our prayers for a just resolution to the current situation, which will allow the people of Nicaragua to enjoy such fundamental rights as freedom of speech and freedom of religion and permit them to worship, pray and manifest their faith freely.

"We urge the government of Nicaragua to enter into a respectful dialogue with the church in the hope that both church and state may coexist peacefully. We pray too that good relations between the Holy See and Nicaragua will soon be restored."

Pope to Bishops: Love alone satisfies the heart

In his homily at Mass with the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) on Thursday, Pope Francis reflected on "three words that challenge us as Christians and Bishops in Europe: reflect, rebuild and see.", writes Francesca Merlo in Vatican News.

Bishops from across Europe, including Archbishop Leo Cushley, are in Rome to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the CCEE with a plenary conference on 23-26 September.


God, speaking through the Old Testament prophet Haggai, invites us to reflect on how we live our lives, said the Pope: Twice the prophet says to the people: “Reflect on your ways!” ( Hag 1:5.7).

The Pope noted that those words, 'Reflect on your ways!', are challenging because in Europe today, "we Christians can be tempted to remain comfortably ensconced in our structures, our homes and our churches, in the security provided by our traditions, content with a certain degree of consensus, while all around us churches are emptying and Jesus is increasingly forgotten".

He asked the bishops and all those present to consider "how many people no longer hunger and thirst for God."

This is not because they are evil, he continued, but because there is "no one to awaken in them a hunger for faith and to satisfy that thirst in the human heart". Certainly, we are “preoccupied” by this, but are we really “occupied” with responding to it? asked the Pope.

There is no sense in judging those who do not believe, said the Pope. "Do we feel concern and compassion for those who have not had the joy of encountering Jesus or who have lost that joy?"

Through the prophet Haggai, the Lord asks his people to reflect on another thing, said the Pope, and this is charity. "Lack of charity causes unhappiness, because love alone satisfies the human heart," said the Pope. "The solution to problems and self-absorption is always that of gratuitous gift. There is no other. This is something to reflect on."


Build my house”, God says through the prophet (Hag 1:8), and the people rebuild the Temple, said the Pope, introducing the second word: rebuilding.

In order to build the European common house, we must "leave behind short-term expedience and return to the farsighted vision of the founding fathers, a prophetic vision of the whole", he said.

We must begin from the foundations, because that is where rebuilding starts: from the Church’s living tradition, which is based on "what is essential, the Good Newscloseness and witness. We need to rebuild from her foundations the Church of every time and place, from worship of God and love of neighbour, and not from our own tastes."

"All rebuilding takes place together, in unity, with others," said the Pope. Rebuilding means becoming artisans of communion, weavers of unity at every level.


"If we rebuild in this way, we will enable our brothers and sisters to see," said the Pope. This is the third word: See.

"So many people in Europe see the faith as déja vu, a relic of the past," said the Pope. This is because they have not seen Jesus at work in their own lives, he explained. Often this is because we, by our lives, have not sufficiently shown Him to them.

"They will not recognize the One who loves each of His sheep, calls them by name, and bears them on His shoulders. They will not see the One whose incredible passion we preach: for it is a consuming passion, a passion for mankind," said the Pope.

This divine, merciful and overpowering love, concluded the Pope "is itself the perennial newness of the Gospel and it demands of us, dear brothers, wise and bold decisions, made in the name of the mad love with which Christ has saved us."

Bishops publish letter of hope to Scotland's Catholics

A national pastoral letter from Scotland's Catholic Bishops has highlighted “reasons for hope, as we live through these difficult times”.

The document, suggests society has begun to rediscover universal human dignity, pointing out that when citizens were asked “to make difficult and prolonged sacrifices for the sake of the most vulnerable and they willingly responded.”

The letter describes this genuine concern for the vulnerable as “obvious and beautiful”.

The letter goes on to hope that “the love and compassion we have shown amid so much suffering and death in recent months (might) now become a way of life and that love of neighbour might now “become the vital principle of our culture”. The document also addresses medical Care of the Sick and Vulnerable, the economy and vaccines.


The bishops welcome the news of vaccine approvals and “hope this will allow an early immunisation programme to protect our population and offer the prospect of some return to normal life.”

In response to ethical concerns raised about the vaccines, the bishops “reassure our Catholic population that, in accordance with longstanding guidance from the Pontifical Academy for Life, it is ethical to take any of the C19 vaccines purchased by the UK at the present time, either because foetal cell lines have not been used in their development or because their sourcing is sufficiently remote.”

The Pastoral Letter observes, that “Just as the nations of the world have been required to collaborate to respond effectively to the virus, so too in our own society we must work together for a better future as we rebuild after the Pandemic.”

The document is being distributed to all of Scotland’s 500 parishes. Read it here.

Public Mass can continue thanks to priests and volunteers

Priests and parish volunteers' high standards of infection control means public worship and parish life can carry on, despite a rise in the rate of Covid-19 infections.

In a letter sent to Scotland’s 500 Catholic parishes, the bishops of Scotland said that Catholic churches are among the safest places to attend thanks to “meticulous” infection control and safety measures.

Bishop John Keenan, Vice President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said: “The tireless work of priests, parishioners and volunteers have ensured that Catholic churches are among the safest places for people to attend in the midst of this Pandemic.

"The bishops are urging everyone to redouble their efforts to reduce the risk of transmission and ensure that we all adhere to the infection control measures that we have put in place.”

He added: “Although no evidence has emerged of cases or clusters connected to our churches, we have every confidence that, if parishes continue their high standards of infection control, then public worship and parish life can carry on and we will continue to be able to attend to the spiritual welfare of the nation.”

“Among the many terrible effects of this pandemic is a surge in cases of depression, hopelessness and suicide. The loss of normality in all its facets has left many feeling bereft and desolate, in need of spiritual solace, like never before.

It is in times of greatest peril that we need the spiritual comfort of public worship most, now, more than ever, our church doors need to be open, so that worshipping in safety can continue.”

Read the letter here.