My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On the fourth Sunday of Lent, I write to you on behalf of the Bishops of Scotland, to thank you for your support of SCIAF – the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund – in its 50th anniversary year.
In today’s Gospel Jesus says “For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.”
It is by spreading the good news of Jesus’ saving power and by living in the truth that we come in to the light. SCIAF is a beacon of that light and a living witness to the saving power of Jesus’ love. It is by the grace of God that we are able to live in the truth and witness to the fact that what we do is done in God.
SCIAF’s mission has always been to reach out to the most vulnerable of our global neighbours. I have just visited Malawi where I was able to see for myself the great things that SCIAF is able to achieve with your help. It is through a partnership of respect and friendship, based on our love for Christ, that we are able to give families the hand up that they desperately need.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I was in Malawi and met Mary Jackson and her family, whom you see on this year’s WEE BOX. With a little support from you, through SCIAF, Mary has worked hard to grow good food for her children and to build a small business. Although her life is still hard, she can earn a little money to provide for her family, to send her children to school and to save for their future.
Thanks to your generosity and their hard work, women like Mary are freeing their families from poverty. Today, which is also Mother’s Day, I will remember in my prayers all the inspirational and loving mothers I met in Malawi, and all those I have met in Scotland.
When in Malawi, I also met some survivors of the terrible recent floods. 200,000 people have lost their homes, but those I met were already working to rebuild their homes and communities. We too have a part to play in caring for our environment, to minimise the dangers faced by the poorest people. Our Holy Father Pope Francis has said: “Each of us has a personal responsibility to care for creation, this precious gift which God has entrusted to us.” This Lent, we can each pledge to live our lives more simply, to care for creation and live in solidarity with others.
SCIAF belongs to all of us in our Catholic community. It puts Catholic teaching into practice and shows what our faith, our prayers and our generosity can achieve. From immediate emergency responses to long-term assistance we are helping people across the world to find their own ways to live life to the full.
Finally, this year’s Lenten appeal is special because every penny in your WEE BOX or in the collection plate for SCIAF will be doubled by the UK Government. This allows us to reach twice as many families like Mary’s, and to make twice as much of a difference. To qualify, our donations must reach SCIAF by 17 May, so please remember to count up your coins and send in the funds as soon as you can.
I urge you this Lent, in your prayers and in your actions, to commit yourselves once again to the work of SCIAF, for the love of God and the love of our fellow men, women and children in need.
May God bless you and your families abundantly during this holy season of Lent.
Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh
on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland