Scotland and the Vatican

THERE has been a deal of speculation over Scotland’s relationship with the Vatican of late. Today we give over the SCO blog to the observant Hugh McLoughlin and his insight into the situation (see this week’s SCO for full article).

BEFORE they went to Rome, one of our ‘quality’ national newspapers accused the bishops of being unenthusiastic to the point of apathy about the forthcoming Papal visit. While they were in Rome, the other ‘quality’ national newspaper ran a front page story with the headline ‘Sectarian Scotland’ attacked by Pope: Sectarianism ‘has continued to rear its head in recent times and Reformation was a tragedy, [Pope] Benedict tells bishops.’

In that same issue, in the opinion pages a leader writer informed their readership that for Pope Benedict, Scotland was ‘a place of which he disapproves.’ Needless to say, my flabber was totally gasted and my conster utterly nated. Twice over. At least that would have been the case had any of it actually been true. The phrase ‘distortions, half-truths and outright lies’ springs readily to mind.

As to the former accusation, how can you expect the bishops to ‘dance in the streets’ when the music has not started playing? Jim Murphy MP, Scottish Secretary of State, and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, haven’t as yet turned on the Juke Box. When they do so, by providing Cardinal Keith O’Brien with an outline schedule of the coming Papal itinerary which the Scottish hierarchy can then set about filling out with engagements both sacred and profane, then the bishops will likely jive.

As to the Pope disapproving of Scotland, where do you start?

So that is why shortly after his election when his former colleague, Mgr Henry Docherty, the first ever British priest to have served in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith— discounting the Anglo-Spaniard Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val—was celebrating the golden jubilee as a priest Pope Benedict took the time and went to the trouble of making sure that Cardinal Levada phoned monsignor with his best wishes and then later got him to phone again to check that he had received his Papal Blessing parchment. A Papal Blessing which was signed not as is the custom by the Papal Almoner, but by the Holy Father himself, in his own hand. (This is such a rarity that it wouldn’t surprise me if at some time in the future that parchment were to turn up on the Antiques Roadshow.)

The Holy Father later appointed Mgr Docherty as a protonotary apostolic, the highest ranking prelate beneath a bishop. Indeed, a protonotary apostolic enjoys some of the privileges normally associated with a bishop and it is a strange, strange honour to bestow upon someone from a country of which you papally disapprove.

The Pope disapproves of Scotland. So that would have been why when he was prefect of the congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he befriended a then young priest, Fr Pat Burke, of the St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese who was resident in the Teutonic College whilst researching his thesis on Karl Rahner for his PhD at the Gregorian University.

And presumably it was this self same disapproval of all things Caledonian that later led Cardinal Ratzinger to ask Cardinal Keith O’Brien to release Fr Burke for service in the Doctrine Section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But ah, they will say, that was before he became Pope and acquired his antipathy to all things Scottish. So why then did Pope Benedict last year name Fr Burke a chaplain of His Holiness, a monsignor?

(See page 11 of this week’s SCO for full article)

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4 Responses to “Scotland and the Vatican”

  1. Petros Says:

    Proud to be part Scot and Catholic. Well done!

  2. Morning Catholic must-reads « Editor's Briefing Says:

    […] McLoughlin responds to those who suggest that Pope Benedict disapproves of the Scottish […]

  3. Tom Says:

    God bless the holy father 🙂

  4. Laura Armstrong Says:

    Thank you for your article.

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