Pastoral Letter on Safeguarding

My Dear People,

I write, on behalf of all the Bishops of Scotland, to draw your attention to the publication of our Church’s new Safeguarding materials which come into force on 21 May 2018. These include ‘In God’s Image’, the document which offers comprehensive guidance and instruction on every aspect of Safeguarding, including compliance with new Safeguarding standards. This has been shaped by the recent experience and developing expertise of those involved in the front line of Safeguarding in the Church, both in Scotland and internationally. In ratifying this publication, the Bishops have taken the opportunity to repeat and renew apologies made to those who have suffered any form of abuse, at any time, by anyone representing the Church.

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7th Sunday of Easter

The Great Wall of China. Hadrian’s Wall. The Berlin Wall. The Iron Curtain. The Korean Demarcation Line. The Israel-Gaza barrier. These are just a few examples of physical barriers people have put up to separate themselves effectively from others. I believe there’s another one planned along the Mexican-American border. When such a massive construction effort is undertaken, it’s usually driven by – and justified by – one big idea or an ideology. Such projects are almost invariably divisive, not merely in a literal sense, but more notably both culturally and mentally. They create a sense of superiority on one side and inferiority on the other, consequently fostering attitudes like derision, mockery, disregard, contempt and so on. In the extreme, those excluded can effectively be dehumanised, as we saw in the Jewish ghettos established by the Nazis. Instinctively we feel that putting up barriers is wrong but, on the other hand, fencing of this kind offers a sense of safety, even if it is only illusory.

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6th Sunday of Easter

It’s the year 2018. We are sitting in a Catholic Church, attending Mass celebrated in the Roman rite but in our native language. Some of us were cradle Catholics and inherited the Catholic faith from their parents, while others converted Catholic at a later stage in their lives. But it can safely be said that none of us here is of direct Jewish stock; to use the rather old-fashioned and dated term, we are Gentiles. For millennia, Christians claimed sole ownership of Jesus and of everything associated with him as their birthright in admittedly sometimes violent opposition to the Jews, quite forgetting that He and virtually all his early followers were Jewish. Our collective discipleship of Jesus, both here in Scotland and throughout the world, was sparked in the house of a certain Roman officer stationed in the Palestinian coastal city of Caesarea. That event is described concisely in today’s first reading.

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5th Sunday of Easter

When referring to Jesus’ parable of the Good Shepherd last Sunday, I admitted that my knowledge of farming and agriculture is rather limited. That limitation extends to vine-dressing – with reference to the image as presented in today’s gospel. However, my limited knowledge doesn’t mean that I’m absolutely ignorant of the matter. Thanks to my formal education plus my deep-rooted curiosity and experience of real life, I do know a couple of things about horticulture. It’s enough to make me feel deeply moved by the image painted by Jesus in today’s gospel.

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4th Sunday of Easter

In common with most babies and toddlers, they are very cute and very vulnerable. Oh, I’m obviously talking about lambs! These days a lot of them run carefree in the fields; but the moment they spot danger, like a big man walking his dog, they run to their respective mothers and – oddly enough – suck them for comfort. I guess that gives them a sense of safety and security. That’s my educated guess, but it’s a guess nevertheless because my knowledge of farming is limited to say the least. Yes, I’m of that generation on the verge of extinction which still knows where our food comes from. (A note for the young: it’s not from the supermarket.) But more and more in our increasingly urban and digital society, people know less and less about farming, fishing and agriculture. Perhaps the best and most famous consumable industry in our area is whisky production, thanks to a good number of visitor centres and tours of distilleries throughout Speyside.

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Tribute to Gena Coull

This eulogy was delivered by Bobbie Stewart on Thursday 19th April 2018.

Georgina Milton Munro Stewart was born on the 5th February 1934 – the eldest daughter in a family of ten children. She remembered her early years as being mostly playful and happy, however, being the eldest daughter, household chores inevitably came her way – leaving her feeling a bit like Cinderella sometimes. Continue reading “Tribute to Gena Coull”