The long wait for a Scottish cardinal

The Pope announced last weekend he was elevating 21 new Cardinals, including those from Ghana, Mongolia, and Singapore. But not Scotland.

The Pope’s choices reflected his desire to ensure the leadership of the Church represents the global nature and Catholicism and his pastoral priorities.

None of the Scottish bishops made the but this time, which the Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron thinks is a great shame.

A cardinal would be important ‘not just for those in our Catholic communities,’ but for ‘society at large to have a range of authoritative voices from a variety of faiths, free from the constraints of party politics or other agendas,’ he said.

Mr Cameron added that issues such as the war in Ukraine, assisted suicide, gender, and child poverty required an authoritative Catholic perspective.

“All of this will require a figure, with a public profile, to represent the church in national discourse and to lead Scotland’s Catholics through a difficult period ahead,” he said.

“Although each diocese has its bishop, the country needs a single, courageous Catholic voice.”

The appointment of cardinals lies solely in the gift of the Pope. When these new appointments are installed at a consistory in August 63% of the Cardinal-electors who select the next Pope will have been chosen by Pope Francis.

It will also mean there are 132 members of the College of Cardinals, well above the recommended level of 120. That has led to speculation in Rome that this latest Consistory will be the last by this Pope, so there may not be more Cardinal appointed for some time.

There is speculation in Rome that this latest Consistory, which will take place in August could be the last by this Pope.

Dr Sara Parvis, Senior Lecturer in Patristics at the University of Edinburgh, said that Scotland not having a Cardinal was not unusual.

She said the appointment of Cardinal Joseph Gray in 1969, the first Scottish prelate to achieve the rank in four centuries, reflected a ‘new sense of excitement in Scotland about global Catholicism’ after the second Vatican council.

“Creating a new Scottish Cardinal would give Scottish Catholics a sense of a sense of playing our full part in global Catholicism once again,” she said.

Dr John Davies, Editor of The Innes Review: The Journal of Scottish Catholic History, stated that since the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in 1878, only three cardinals have been appointed from amongst the Scottish hierarchy: Cardinals Joseph Gray and Keith O’Brien of St An- drew’s & Edinburgh, and Cardinal Joseph Winning of Glasgow.

“There may or may not be a pattern in these appointments between St Andrews and Glasgow,” he said, “but the sequence is too short to say that there is a policy of appointing cardinals alternately between the two metropolitan sees of Scotland.”

“We can say that the appointment of a cardi- nal from Scotland has never been made while another was still living.”

Cardinal O’Brien was the last Scottish cardinal appointed, who resigned due to sexual mis- conduct, died in 2018.

Christopher Lamb, Rome Correspondent at The Tablet, and a veteran observer of Vatican affairs told the Scottish Catholic that Pope Francis has ‘ripped old rule book for who becomes a cardinal by choosing bishops in far-flung corners of the globe serving in countries that have never had a cardinal before.’

“Francis’ ‘last shall be first policy’ is designed to make the body who will elect his successor more reflective of the global church and to reform a system that could fall prey to careerism given that it was assumed that the leadership of certain dioceses automatically meant receiving a red hat,” he said.

Read the full story, including who the leading candidates to be a cardinal from the Scottish Church are, in the latest edition of the Scottish Catholic magazine. Get it in parishes or by subscription.

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