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Catholic Life

Cardinal: visit will boost faith

Cardinal Keith O’Brien: Pope will remind Catholics in Britain how they should live their faith today

By on Thursday, 26 August 2010

Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s home in Morningside, Edinburgh, where he will welcome Pope Benedict XVI for a private lunch (Photo: Peter Jennings)

Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s home in Morningside, Edinburgh, where he will welcome Pope Benedict XVI for a private lunch (Photo: Peter Jennings)

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, hopes that Pope Benedict XVI will remind Catholics how they should live their Christian faith today, writes Peter Jennings.

Speaking at his home in Edinburgh on Wednesday August 4, the eve of his silver jubilee as a bishop, 1985-2010, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, said: “I should particularly like the Holy Father to remind Catholics in Scotland of the basics of our Catholic faith and how we should be living it in these challenging times.”

Asked what had been most precious to him during his 25 years as a bishop, Cardinal Keith O’Brien said: “My relationship to my priests and my people. I succeeded Cardinal Gordon Gray and now after 25 years as a bishop in this archdiocese I have inherited that fatherly mantle which he passed on to me.”

Cardinal O’Brien, 72, added: “I was ordained archbishop at St Mary’s Cathedral here in Edinburgh on August 5 1985. It has been a very happy 25 years in this wonderful diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.”

Pope Benedict XVI is due to fly from Rome to Edinburgh on Thursday September 16 at the start of his four-day state visit to Britain.

He will travel directly from the airport to the palace of Holyroodhouse where he will be met by the Queen. During an exclusive interview Cardinal O’Brien said: “The people of Edinburgh will have an opportunity to see the Holy Father when he is driven from Holyroodhouse in the popemobile along Princes Street to my home in Morningside on the feast of St Ninian, the first acknowledged missionary to Scotland.”

The cardinal said that while the crowds are waiting for Pope Benedict to pass by they will be entertained by a procession of pipe bands and a pageant by schoolchildren from the archdiocese.

In the pageant, characters from Scottish history will process down Princes Street in front of the popemobile, including St Ninian, St Andrew, Mary Queen of Scots, St Margaret, Bonnie Prince Charlie – and the leader of the Scottish Reformation, John Knox.

Cardinal O’Brien said: “After his arrival here the Holy Father will go to my private chapel for a few moments of quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.”

In the chapel the cardinal pointed out the two stained-glass windows depicting two great Scottish missionaries – St Ninian who brought the Gospel to Scotland and St Columba who founded of the monastery of Iona. St Columba died on June 9 in 597.

Cardinal O’Brien pointed out the words on the altar cloth: “Serve the Lord with Gladness.” He said: “This is the motto that I chose in 1985 when I was appointed by Pope John Paul II as archbishop of this diocese.” The cardinal added: “I will entertain the Holy Father and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and other close aides at a private lunch.

“After a rest the Pope will be taken by motorcade to Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, where he will celebrate a late afternoon Mass for the Catholics of Scotland.”

Twenty-eight years ago, on May 31 1982, during the six-day pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II to Great Britain, this correspondent travelled in the motorcade with the official Vatican party behind the popemobile as it travelled along Princes Street.

The Polish pope had just been given a rapturous reception when he addressed more than 40,000 young people from all over Scotland at Murrayfield Stadium.

  • Thomas M.P, Silvassa, India

    I feel sad for these atheists. I was myself an atheist for about 30 years. I am a catholic from India. My ancestors were converted to Christianity by St. Thomas, the apostle.

    I was a strong catholic (without any conviction, but merely because of traditional following) till I was in my late teens.

    Then, when I was in college, in my late teenage, my Hindu friends used to talk to me about my religion and god and we too used to talk about theirs. They used to tell me that my god is a bastard. Do you believe in such possibilities, they used to ask me. (In spite of these remarks we were all natural friends and had no iota of enmity or rivalry among us, we were all sincere friends who cared for one another.)

    During those days I was staying at a place dominated by the communists (as many people know that Kerala is very much under the atheist communists’ influence.) (I want to emphasize that my Hindu friends were atheists as well as theists.)

    Then I started thinking according to my logic. I started thinking about the environment and society and families that were living around me. I said if a person claiming to be son of god and not of my father, was born to my mother, I would in no moment kill him or would do some harsh thing or leave my family for ever. What a torture he would have been to me and the other members of the family and the immediate society we live in! When I would get married and if a bastard of my wife would claim he was son of god!!!! It was beyond me.

    Thinking over it again and again aggravated my stand and it brought out in my mind doubt about the divinity of Christ.

    I thought that many unfortunate events have happened like this in the history of mankind and the offspring were despised by mankind (even though no one has any choice of their birth.)

    And the Bible says Jesus was born this way. And I decided that his close friends wanted to get rid of this bad tag and emulated him as god or son of god merely to save him from such a rejection by society and then the society at large slowly thought him to be god or son of god because of the propagation by his friends.

    Then I read a lot about other religions and I found that this sexual immorality was described in the lives of many people whose lives were described in all those books.

    I finally decided that all religions are justifications of the evil actions of ancient ancestors.

    Again my confusion continued and I thought even if Jesus was Son of God, I will not continue to be a follower of his because such gods should not be emulated and it is better to die an atheist rather than go to these people’s heaven, because god himself is a wrong-doing existence. (Most atheists merely choose to not go there after death because they detest being in the company of that god whom they have realized but don’t want to accept, recognize, approve and emulate.)

    As time passed I got married and my wife is a devout catholic. (We have been married for 18 years and we have two sons ages 17 and 14 as of today.)

    My wife and I never agreed on two things. And worse, one of her elder sisters is a nun who I have presumed to have created a lot of marital discords in our life. There are also priests and some other nuns among her cousins and second-cousins.

    I started spitting and urinating on and desecrating images and what not. Yet during my drunken hours I still sought God and wanted to know the truth.

    Unexpectedly after about thirty years like a thunderbolt the truth was revealed to me when I was in a drunken state.

    This truth, a great theology, which looks more like a heresy than a theology, which God has perhaps never revealed (or revealed but no one, the Popes, the theologians, the bishops, the saints, the doctors of the Church has discussed) changed my life.

    From that day I rejected being an atheist.

    I realized why God chose to be born a bastard. That Christmas of about two thousand years ago was the one we think God chose to be born the poorest of the poor in a manger. This has been the belief of humanity for 2000 or more years. But nay, it was beyond this….. He chose to be born a bastard.

    The greatest love story does not end here.

    Why did He choose to be born a bastard? Do you know the answer?

    I have.

    I will discuss this in these columns these days if God permits.