Archbishop-elect Philip Tartaglia said yesterday, the day it was officially announced that he would succeed Archbishop Mario Conti in Glasgow, that this was not “year zero”. In one phrase the Bishop of Paisley summed up what lay ahead — continuity.
In receiving the honour, and shouldering the responsibility, of Glasgow archdiocese, and the pastoral care of the majority of Catholics in the west of Scotland, the new Archbishop of Glasgow recognised the work of his predecessors and pledged to tackle the challenges ahead in what remains to be done.
Born in Glasgow, and ordained a priest for Glasgow archdiocese, this was a joyful homecoming. Nonetheless he is a new “personality” in the role. What kind of pastoral leader and Church spokesman, is Glasgow getting? The archbishop-elect is not an unknown quantity and promotion through the ranks such as this speaks well of the Church in Scotland’s standing with the Vatican. At 61 he is younger than some senior Scottish bishops, but he already has more than six years as a bishop – and as communication bishop for the Scottish hierarchy – under his belt.
In his communication role, the archbishop-elect has firmly reinforced the Church’s position of issues of concern in Scottish society, such as the threats to religious freedom under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act 2012, which came into effect in March, and those posed by the Scottish Government’s planned legalisation of same-sex marriage. In his strongly-worded submission on behalf of the Bishop’s Conference of Scotland, he said: “Governments do not have the authority to say what marriage is or to change its nature or to decree that people of the same sex can marry.” The new archbishop was returning from the Paisley diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes when he got the news of his appointment. The archbishop-elect reflected ‘maybe Our Lady was giving me an answer.’
• Liz Leydon is editor of the Catholic Observer