.- Speaking in a recent homily, Archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conti discussed the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland and the place of the Church in modern society. He warned against a looming âfundamental ruptureâ in efforts to eliminate faith from public discourse.
His remarks came in his homily at a Mass marking the anniversary of Pope Benedict XVIâs election to the papacy.
The Mass was celebrated in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio to Scotland and the Scottish hierarchy at St Maryâs Church, the second oldest archdiocesan chruch, because the Cathedral of St. Andrew is under restoration efforts.
According to Archbishop Conti, the year 2010 marks the 450th anniversary of the Reformation Parliament, which in 1560 banned the Mass, prohibited recourse to Rome and published a new profession of faith based on the Protestant reformers.
Any hesitation about marking this anniversary, the archbishop said, is because of a âdifferentâ and âirenicalâ spirit in the ecumenical movement.
He cited Pope Benedictâs comments to the bishops of Scotland in their February meeting, where the Pope spoke of the âtragedy of division.â
âIt is sobering to recall the great rupture with Scotlandâs Catholic past that occurred four hundred and fifty years ago,â the pontiff continued. âI give thanks to God for the progress that has been made in healing the wounds that were the legacy of that period.â
Archbishop Conti said Christians may look forward to the healing of the Reformationâs ârupture,â but many fear a new rupture more fundamental âeven than that of the Reformation.â
âI am referring to attempts to eliminate the voice of faith from public discourse, in other words a rupture between the Church, faith communities and the world of politics and public policy.â
He mentioned issues like breakdown in marriage and family life; increasing abortions; growing rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; drug addiction and alcoholism, especially among the young; a form of âsocial engineeringâ which âvirtually equates civil partnerships with marriage;â assisted suicide; inhumane treatment of immigrants; and insufficiently restrained bio-technical research.
âAll of these issues carry an ethical question,â the archbishop explained.
âWe need to praise integrity where we see it, and also acknowledge the courage of politicians who do raise their voices in defense of the Churchâs role and who promote publicly, despite secularist criticism, the fundamental place of marriage and the family and the general duty of citizens to care for one another, physically, socially and spiritually.
âThe Church is the repository of the most fundamental values of our civilization and deserves recognition as an instrument of societal cohesion. Its voice is not that of a pressure group, one among many, but rather that of a teacher,â he continued.
He said Catholic doctrine should not be perceived as a series of prohibitions and âretrogradeâ positions, but rather as âcreative and life-givingâ and directed towards âthe fullest possible realization of the great potential for good and happiness that God has implanted within every one of us.â
âIt is that potential for good which our political leaders must identify and release,â Archbishop Conti advised.
The prelate cited Ezekiel 37âs story of the prophet Ezekiel and the valley full of bones. He also noted the Gospel story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead, in which Jesus tells people to unbind the risen Lazarus and âlet him go free.â
Concluding his homily, the archbishop asked if these accounts are applicable to a Church âneeding to be set free to live fully according to its principles, permitted to inspire the body politic.â
âOr is it the body-politic, bound with âbands of stuffâ and âa cloth around its faceâ constrained by political dogma and unable âto see life wholeâ?
âPerhaps both ... Jesus says: âUnbind them. Let them go free!ââ