Bishops celebrate Mass in Scottish Parliament

Scotland’s bishops have led the celebration of Mass in the Scottish Parliament.

It is only the second time in the history of the Scottish Parliament that Mass has been celebrated there; the first being in March 2018, writes the Catholic Parliamentary Office.


Archbishop Leo Cushley was the principal celebrant for the inaugural Mass, held on Wednesday 19 June, marking the feast of Ss John Fisher and Thomas More, the patron saint of politicians.

The Archbishop was joined by Bishop John Keenan, Bishop Brian McGee, Bishop Joseph Toal, and Bishop Frank Dougan. Presiding Officer, Alison Johnstone, delivered the first reading, whilst Mark Griffin MSP read the intercessory prayers.

In his homily, Archbishop Cushley recalled the “messy, noisy” nature of early democracy in Athens where “winning was all that mattered” and invited MSPs to compare this to contemporary political discourse.


He also invited them to consider the role of Socrates in challenging the status quo, with a call to respecting the truth and objective reality.

The Archbishop invited politicians to look into their own hearts and minds, as this is where “good governance” starts and assured MSPs of the prayers of the bishops and the Catholic community as they “carry the heavy burden of responsibility” in their roles.

Building relationships

Reflecting on the day’s events, Archbishop Cushley said: “The bishops wish to engage positively with the country’s lawmakers, and, in spite of UK-wide elections presently taking place, I was pleased with the interest of the MSPs who were able to respond positively to the invitation to meet us.

"Building these relationships is not only helpful in general, it can lead to conversations about points both of convergence and divergence in our views.

"All parties have elements in their manifesto with which we can agree, and things with which we cannot.

"So, I was pleased to have this chance to meet some of our lawmakers and I would encourage Catholics likewise to engage with their MSPs and MPs alike, so that their views and concerns can be aired both cordially and candidly, for the sake of the common good.”

Bishops urge Scot Gov to reject 'Conversion Therapy' report

Responding to the publication of the Scottish Government’s ‘expert’ advisory group’s report on “Ending Conversion Practices”, Scotland’s Catholic Bishops have issued the following statement.


The Church is pastorally sensitive to the experience of people who identify as homosexual. They are to be met with compassion and particular care and support in the challenges that come with all that life brings them.

The Church supports legislation which protects people from physical and verbal abuse. The advice of the expert committee, however, seeks to extend the scope of such legislation in a way that is gravely concerning in regard to freedom of religion and expression.

A fundamental pillar of any free society is that the state recognises and respects the right of religious bodies and organisations to be free to teach the fulness of their beliefs and to support, through prayer, counsel and other pastoral means, their members who wish to live in accordance with those beliefs.

The conclusions of the Scottish Government’s ‘expert’ advisory group on “Ending Conversion Practices” are gravely concerning.

If accepted, legal counsel has warned that they would outlaw pastoral care, prayer, parental guidance and advice relating to sexual orientation, expression of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, other than that which is deemed by the state to constitute “affirmative care”.

These proposals, if passed by the Scottish Parliament:

Moreover, the ‘expert’ advisory group is unclear what is meant by the term ‘conversion practices’ and this will create a chilling effect and may criminalise advice or opinion given in good faith.

Existing legislation rightly protects all people from physical and verbal abuse, however, these proposals go much further.

In urging the Scottish Government to reject this report, we are drawn to the recent words of  Pope Francis who has pointed out: “There is a risk of drifting into what more and more appears as an ideological totalitarianism that promotes intolerance towards those who dissent from certain positions claimed to represent 'progress', but in fact would appear to lead to an overall regression of humanity, with the violation of freedom of thought and freedom of conscience.”

Bishops Conference of Scotland, Monday 16 January 2023

Archbishop leads Ash Wednesday service at Holyrood

Archbishop Leo led an Ash Wednesday service for MSPs and staff at the Scottish Parliament today.

He said: "We prayed for the grace to examine ourselves with honesty and humility and also to ask for God’s help in following Him more closely in the 40 Days of Lent.

"Thanks to all who attended and to Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone for taking the time to meet me for a chat afterwards and also to John Kennedy from Meghan Gallacher MSPs office for helping facilitate this event."