I am sure that, like me, you will have been shocked by recent revelations which have given rise to stern criticism of the Church in Scotland. The authenticity of our Church leadership has been questioned and we are having to face up to charges of deceit and moral hypocrisy. Many in the Church will have felt a great sense of disappointment and a breach of trust at a human level.
Feelings of confusion, disappointment, betrayal and anger will have been experienced by some of the adults you deal with – both colleagues and parents, perhaps. It is likely that some of our young people will have experienced similar emotions – possibly even more acutely than adults. While some will have remained oblivious, depending on their age, maturity and level of awareness, others will have experienced a strong sense of indignation about the hypocrisy which has been displayed. Some of these strong feelings may well have been expressed in your school.
I recognise that, during this time of trial, teachers in Catholic schools may have faced some difficulties in helping pupils to understand what has been happening. I am aware that in many schools Head Teachers have been working hard with colleagues to deal with the fall-out by speaking to pupils. For all that you have been doing in this regard, let me express the deep gratitude of the Church. Let me also encourage you to sustain these efforts during this difficult time.
During the season of Lent we are all invited to recognise our own failings, to repent our sins and to seek the Lord’s forgiveness. But this period of painful self-awareness helps us to appreciate the sense of hope we can experience in our Easter celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection. This Easter we should also be able to celebrate the election of a new Pope who, God willing, will lead the Church towards healing and renewal, particularly in our own country.
Hopefully the Papal Conclave will help us all to focus on new beginnings. Please encourage teachers to make use of the various Papal Conclave resources provided on the SCES website to help pupils to understand the process and to watch the liturgical events which will follow.
Most importantly, you are asked to continue to engage your school community in prayer:
- for the election of a new Pope who will provide spiritual guidance and wise leadership in the governance of our Church
- for Bishops and priests who need our support and assistance to rebuild the Church’s reputation
- for all who need to experience the Lord’s healing, comfort and forgiveness at this time.
With prayers and best wishes,
Director, Scottish Catholic Education Service