Scottish Parliament: Archbishop Leo Cushley calls on nation to hold on to the legacy of Saint Andrew

Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh has called on the nation to hold on to the legacy of Saint Andrew, whose feast day we celebrate on Thursday.

The Archbishop, delivering Time for Reflection in the Scottish Parliament, said: “the university town, his name, and his flag, all remind us of something that’s been here, doing a lot of good for a lot of people, for many centuries: and that is the civilizing influence of fair laws, of just courts, of a belief in objective truth, of standards of behaviour, of mutual respect, of helping others who need a hand.

“No matter your beliefs”, he added, “there are still one or two of these things that we can all agree are worth holding on to.” 

Commenting on Archbishop Cushley’s reflection, Anthony Horan, Director of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office said:

“As we approach the feast of Saint Andrew it is fitting that Archbishop Cushley be invited to deliver the Time for Reflection. It is important that as a society we honour or saints and there is no doubt that Saint Andrew has a special place in Scottish hearts.”

“I am personally delighted to see our Catholic bishops in the Scottish Parliament and I am extremely grateful to the Presiding Officer and his team for their warm welcome and kind hospitality. It is also a fitting opportunity to thank all those politicians who work for the common good of our society, particularly our Catholic MSPs who commit themselves to loving service in an increasingly testing environment.”

The Archbishop was invited to deliver Time for Reflection by the Parliament’s Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh. The Archbishop and the Presiding Officer also had lunch together with the Chief Executive of the Parliament, Sir Paul Grice, and representatives of all political parties. Present were Elaine Smith (Scottish Labour), Maurice Golden (Scottish Conservatives), Clare Adamson (SNP), Mike Rumbles (Liberal Democrats), and Ross Greer (Scottish Green Party).

 

The full text of Archbishop Cushley’s contribution is as follows:

‘As we all know, 30 November, just around the corner, is St Andrew’s Day.  It’s our national day, just as the English choose to celebrate St George, the Irish St Patrick and the Welsh St David. The Welsh found a local lad to celebrate as their national patron; the English have an Armenian soldier, popular among the Crusaders of the high middle ages; the Irish chose a Briton, maybe even from what is now Scotland; and the Scots have a Galilean fisherman. 

Who got the best patron? Well, the English picked someone brave and chivalrous; the Welsh picked someone holy; the Irish picked someone fiery and outspoken; and we picked… a fisherman.  Why a fisherman?  Well, I have a theory, and it’s nothing to do with smokies: so, get comfortable, because here it comes. 

You see, the English used to have St Peter as their national patron, and he was the first Pope.  At that time, the Scots had St Columba as their national patron; good local choice, but not quite up to competing with the first Pope; so, the Scots changed their national patron to St Andrew.  Now, Andrew wasn’t the first pope, but he was the first man to be called to follow Jesus.  And in the middle ages, that counted for something…

Over a thousand years ago, his relics were brought to the town known now St Andrews, and the kings and people of this country built a cathedral in his honour there.  I’m told that, for centuries, St Andrew’s Cathedral was the largest building in the whole of Scotland, and pilgrims came from all over Europe to visit it. 

Today, we’re still proud of Andrew, but in a vague, distant way. Yet he, the university town, his name, and his flag, all remind us of something that’s been here, doing a lot of good for a lot of people, for many centuries: and that is the civilizing influence of fair laws, of just courts, of a belief in objective truth, of standards of behaviour, of mutual respect, of helping others who need a hand.  And that’s probably the best thing about having Andrew as national patron: no matter your beliefs, there are still one or two of these things that we can all agree are worth holding on to and that are good for us all.

So, St Andrew, patron of all Scots, pray for us!’

 

Image: Scottish Catholic Observer