Archbishop encourages politicians to be open about their faith


Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh has told BBC Radio Scotland listeners that “politicians who don’t privatise their faith can be outstanding servants of the common good.”


Speaking on the Good Morning Scotland show the Archbishop paid tribute to former US presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his death.


Kennedy was “pro-civil rights, pro-trade unions and pro-life; he was against segregation and against the death penalty” said the Archbishop. He also said that Kennedy “tried to live a public life consistent with his private life, where he and his wife tried to raise their many children in accord with the teachings of the Church.”


It can be extremely difficult to be openly Catholic in contemporary politics. There are many competing interests for politicians to consider and it is very difficult to achieve a balance that satisfies all constituents, toes the party line, and is consistent with their faith. Truth be told, it is impossible. But religion is particularly frowned upon, especially through the influence of the mainstream media. Secular society it seems is no place for Christian principles; principles that are often wrongly disregarded for being out of date, out of touch and of little significance.


Yet this need not be so. Despite the hostile environment, there is room for Christianity and there is room for politicians of a Christian persuasion. How can we not make space for Christ’s message of love and mercy in a world that so desperately needs it? As disciples of Christ we are charged with taking that love and mercy to all corners of the earth. For those of us who are Catholic it means being true to Christ and his Church. This takes courage and great moral strength.


I think people today are more afraid of failure than at any other point in time. This encourages anxiety which in turn inhibits our artistic freedom; an artistic freedom which should allow us to be the people we were made to be. Or to be more blunt: the saints God made us to be. We live in a culture that seeks perfection at any cost, be it in politics, in business, or in the arts. But we should not be afraid of failure. We all inevitably fall short at some point. That’s why we rely on the Church; to help us rediscover Christ’s call and to give us the strength to become saintly. Failure, and the self-reflection which follows, should make us better people.


There is great hope for Christ’s message in Scotland. There are Bobby Kennedys out there. Even today, in spite of a hostile environment, Catholic politicians remain true to Christ and to their faith. They show great courage in serving God and serving the people they represent. They are good people and they want to help those in need. They do not seek to impose their faith but rather seek to use it as the basis for a loving service which has at its heart the common good of all. The Church is grateful for them and their work, and she offers her support in a tremendously challenging environment.