| | News Releases, Christianity
6 April
Apr 6
6th April 1999

European ElectionsOn June 10th we go to the polls to elect members of the European Parliament. The Catholics Bishops of the countries of the European Union, in which Scotland is fully represented, encourage all citizens use their right to vote at these elections and in doing so, contribute to the construction of a better continent for all our people.  Over the centuries Scotland has enjoyed good and cordial relations with the countries of mainland Europe and we are confident such traditions will be strengthened in years to come.  Europe is changing. Since 1989, when Communism collapsed, the continent has, in the words of Pope John Paul II, once more begun to breathe with both lungs, east and west. Soon new member states from the former Eastern bloc will be admitted; the structures of the EU are being revised. Now is the hour for all of us to show our commitment to the ideal of giving a soul to the new Europe which is taking shape.  In an increasingly fragmented world the European Union offers a beacon of hope; an example of fruitful international co-operation. The Church views positively moves towards closer European integration and favours a new solidarity among the people of the Old Continent.  The European Parliament is an increasingly important body in our daily lives. Many important economic, social and moral issues will be decided at European level in the future. It is up to us to be vigilant, therefore, and elect members of the European Parliament of sound moral principles.  We owe it to ourselves and to our fellow citizens of Europe to make the ideal of European co-operation a reality.  The European Union was born out of the destruction and chaos which followed World War II. As war rages in our continent for the first time in fifty years, it is vital that we show our commitment to building a peaceful and safe common European homeland, and demonstrate our support for the efforts at restoring peace currently being pursued by the European Union.  Europe's Christian roots need to be rediscovered. We can help in that process by voting according to our conscience on June 10th.  ENDS...

| | News Releases, Christianity
7 February
Feb 7
7th February 1999

In  expressing their gratitude for the opportunity to make a submission to the Royal Commission in the reform of the House of Lords, the Catholic Bishops Scotland welcomed the Government's stated intention of looking "for ways increasing the representation in The Lords of other religious traditions"  The Bishops considered that it would be inappropriate for Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church to take up seats in the reformed House of Lords."Our preferred solution", stated the Bishops, " would be for the appointment of lay people, of wisdom and experience, to the House of Lords with the explicit mandate of representing the interests and concerns of the Roman Catholic community in Scotland".ENDS   IntroductionThe Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland is grateful to have the opportunity to make its submission to the Royal Commission on the reform of the House of Lords.The future shape of the second chamber is still unclear. The Church has no "model" which it would seek to recommend to the legislature, therefore we confine our response in this paper to the question of religions representation within a reformed House of Lords.Religious RepresentationSince the current position whereby only Bishops of the Church of England serve as "Lords Spiritual" is widely recognised as being anachronistic, we welcome the Governments stated intention of looking "for ways of increasing the representation in the Lords of other religious traditions." (Modernising Parliament, 22)This explicit recognition of the value of the spiritual dimension in politics is much to be applauded.Roman Catholic RepresentationThe Roman Catholic Church in Scotland welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the progress of our nation by having a role in a reformed second chamber.The question is how best to achieve that.If the House of Lords were to remain largely structured as at present, that is, intimately connected with the machinery of government, shaping and passing legislation, It would appear inappropriate for Bishops themselves to act as members.The reasons for this are as follows:1 The Bishop's prime role and duty is to be a spiritual guide and shepherd to all in his diocese. This is clearly spelled out in the Holy See's Directory on the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops. It states: "The pastoral nature of the Bishop's office and his ministry of God's word and grace, clearly show, especially in today's religious and social circumstances that the office and work of a Bishop are only spiritual and ecclesial." (Directory on the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, 20. Sacred Congregation for Bishops, 22.2.73)2 Taking part in debates and divisions in the House of Lords, a Bishop would run the risk of alienating those of his flock who did not share his position on a given issue3 In the modern Church the pastoral role of the Bishop is extremely demanding and it would seem an inappropriate use of the Bishop's limited time were he to be required to attend regular sessions of the House of Lords.4 The Bishop shares the essentially prophetic mission of the Church, a mission which requires that he should be, and be seen to be, independent of the legislature. To discharge his role the Bishop has to be entirely free of all links to secular institutions which are involved in the administration of government and legislation5 These considerations are reflected in the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church, which is binding throughout the world. The Code forbids clerics (by which is meant deacons, priests and Bishops) from assuming "public office whenever it means sharing in the exercise of civil power." (Canon 285,3). It is hard to see, therefore, how any cleric could represent the Church in a reformed second chamber which in any sense "exercised civil power."6 The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) insisted strongly on the need for lay people to actively engage in apostolate with the modern world. "It belongs to the laity to seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal...