Bishop John Keenan, Bishop of Paisley, will tomorrow (Thursday 16 June 2016) ask Scots to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with those who are persecuted and oppressed for their religious faith.


Addressing more than a thousand Catholic school pupils at the Aid to the Church in Need youth rally at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes at Carfin, near Motherwell, on Thursday 16 June, Bishop Keenan will commend the bravery of keynote speaker, 20-year-old Sarmad Ozan who fled Mosul, northern Iraq after it was seized by IS in 2014.


Bishop Keenan will call on Scotland’s political leaders to renew their commitment to religious freedom and “show compassion for those fleeing unimaginable violence and intolerance”. Quoting Pope Francis the Bishop will say, “Persecution is the daily bread of the Church, Jesus said so himself, it is a reality and has been part of the history of Christianity for 2000 years.”


He will say, “A great number of our fellow Scots have paid with their lives for their religious beliefs, not least of all our own Saint John Ogilvie, martyred just a few miles from here at Glasgow Cross, for refusing to accept the King’s spiritual jurisdiction”.


“We unite today in prayer to bear witness to the atrocities committed against Christians and all those who are persecuted and oppressed for their religious beliefs. We ask those in power in Scotland and across the world to show a renewed commitment to religious freedom and a gentle compassion for those fleeing unimaginable violence and intolerance“.




Note to Editors


1. The Youth Rally, Thursday 16 June, (10-2pm) is organised by the Scottish office of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Catholic charity for persecuted Christians. For more information, contact Michael J Robinson, ACN 01698 337 472 or 07908 033878.


 2. Bishop John Keenan of Paisley and Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell will attend, representing the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of      Scotland.


3. For more information on the National Shrine, visit:


4. For an image of Bishop Keenan visit:

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