Archbishop Leo Cushley gave the Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Scotland this morning (Thursday 9 June). Watch below or on our YouTube channel. Transcript bottom..
Although bumping elbows is also fairly common these days, in my line of work, I get to shake hands with lots of people. Recently, one of the handshakes wasn’t just a nice thing to do, it was also pretty historic.
The handshake in question was with this year’s Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Dr Iain Greenshields, and it was in the light of a declaration of friendship that had just been approved between the Catholic Church here and the Church of Scotland. Is that a big deal? Well, I’d say it is.
Most of us know something of the history between Catholics and Protestants in this country. It contains some dark pages, and there’s much for us to regret. But over the last few decades something new has happened: we have been learning to pray together; our people and our parishes now work in various way together, through food banks, action on homelessness, credit unions and more.
And, while sifting through our theological differences, and praying together, and helping others, we have also stumbled into something perhaps a little unexpected: many of us have become friends.
And, given our shared history, that isn’t nothing.
So, the declaration – now called the St Margaret Declaration in you want to google it - celebrates this friendship. It also recalls what we have in common as Christians – which, when you start writing it down, turns out to be more than you might think.
Now, smarter people than me have been working sincerely and well over the last forty years to resolve the issues that divide us. They’re not insignificant and they’ll need time to understand and patience to resolve. But what brings us together is still something worth celebrating and building on.
Do I expect the Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland to be perfectly aligned? Well, maybe not before teatime… But, by acknowledging together all that we hold in common, we can walk and pray together as friends and be a more authentic Christian witness in the land. The rest will come in God’s good time.
Read the St Margaret Declaration here.