PASTORAL LETTER FOR 23RD AUGUST 2015

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last Tuesday, Revd. Dr. Andrew McLellan published his Commission’s Report, a review of current Safeguarding policies, procedures and practice within the Catholic Church in Scotland. This review was called for by the Bishops two years ago. We deliberately sought help from those outside the Catholic Church, and we have accepted the Report’s Recommendations in full.

The Report is available on our diocesan website, and the leaflets in your church this Saturday and Sunday summarise its findings and our response. Please take a copy.

On the same day last week, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia and other bishops concelebrated Mass at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Glasgow. I was also there. On behalf of us all, Archbishop Philip renewed our commitment to Safeguarding, voiced our acceptance of the Report’s recommendations and apologised to survivors and victims of abuse within the Catholic Church. The text of the apology is also in the leaflet.

I associate myself wholly with all this. I know you will too. We want to put aside for ever what Pope Francis has called this “terrible darkness” of the abuse of children and the vulnerable. We want to continue and still further improve the good work of our Safeguarding coordinators in our parishes and communities and of our diocesan Safeguarding Team. My thanks to all of them! Above all, we want to find new and creative ways of providing justice and healing for survivors and victims. We will need their help.

Pope Francis has declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy. It opens on 8th December. It is an opportunity to turn to God’s mercy shown in Christ, to allow that mercy into our lives and to show it to one another. There could not be a better horizon for our journey. Like Simon Peter, we know there is nowhere else to go but Jesus. He has the words of eternal life. May the Gospel be our guide! May we never forget his terrible words of warning against those who despise ‘one of these little ones’ (Mt 18:10). May we remember his words of promise to those who serve him in their brothers and sisters who suffer (Mt 25:31ff) – and may we be among them.

Yours devotedly in Christ,

+ Hugh

Hugh Gilbert OSB,
Bishop of Aberdeen