Edinburgh, Scotland, Mar 29, 2015 / 01:35 am
Scottish Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh is launching a new promo film across social media as he unveils his plans for the future of the Catholic Church in his part of Scotland.
"It's a wee movie with a big message – bringing the joy of the Gospel to a contemporary Scottish society in desperate need of the healing love of Jesus Christ," Archbishop Cushley said March 29.
The plans are set out in a Pastoral Letter entitled We Have Found the Messiah, which is being launched in all churches in the archdiocese on Palm Sunday.
"My big message is that the renewal and, yes, growth of the Catholic Church in our part of Scotland is very possible, but only if we create vibrant Christian communities gathered closely around Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist – that's where Christ is most truly and powerfully present in our contemporary world," the archbishop explained.
The Archdiocese of St Andrews was rocked by scandal in 2013 when Cardinal Keith P. O'Brien resigned after admitting to making homosexual approaches to other priests in the 1980s. Following his resignation, Pope Francis personally selected Leo Cushley – then a senior Vatican diplomat – to take over as archbishop.
Despite inheriting a reduced number of priests and practicing Catholics, Archbishop Cushley says that continued decline is far from inevitable.
"We must set about rebuilding God's household with hope and joy. We can use this time as an opportunity for spiritual renewal and for refocusing our energies on a new evangelisation of our world."
As well as the promo film, Archbishop Cushley's vision is also set out in a pocket-sized booklet to be distributed to every person attending Palm Sunday Mass. He then intends to set off on a tour of 31 venues across the archdiocese in order to discuss his plans with both local priests and parishioners.
"We have to employ new ways – and rediscover some old ways – of communicating the timeless and beautiful proposition of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. If that means using social media, printed booklets and public meetings then great, let's do it."
A key part of Archbishop Cushley's plan is to undertake a "realistic assessment" of the resources presently available to the Church at a local level, including numbers of clergy, churches and parish halls. While that process may lead to the eventual merging of some parishes, Archbishop Cushley was quick to stress that no conclusions have yet been reached.
"Contrary to speculation, no decisions have been taken and no decisions will be taken until we've had a fully inclusive discussion across the Archdiocese as to the way forward. I want to hear from everybody who has something to say. Timescale? Well, it will take the time it will take."