Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Scotsman Says It Right

Yesterday Pope Francis named Monsignor Leo Cushley as the archbishop-elect of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland. I found this interesting because I'm an Anglophile (though I suppose technically that would refer just to England... perhaps I'm also a Scotophile? Is that even a thing? I do have the flag of St. Andrew on my wall, as well as the Scottish royal standard....) but there was a little tidbit from the news article I read which I thought was worth sharing even with those who aren't as interested in the comings and goings in the northernmost reaches of the island of Great Britain.

The archbishop-elect concluded his press release with the following: 
"My first task is to preach the good news, Christ crucified and risen from the dead, to confirm my brother priests in their Catholic faith and ministry, and to be a loving, simple, wise shepherd to the flock that has been entrusted to me."
Wow! I don't think I've ever seen such a pithy and punchy summation of the role of a bishop in the Church. His primary function, his most important role, at the top of his to-do list, is to preach the good news of Christ, who was slain and now lives forever, who has won victory over sin and death, and who offers us eternal life if we believe in him and live in him. Serving as the high priest of the local church over which he is head, he has the responsibility of strengthening those who serve with and under him in the preaching of the good news and the service of the new dispensation, exercising the priesthood of Jesus Christ and bringing the grace of God into people's lives via the proclamation of the Gospel and the celebration of the sacraments. He sees himself first and foremost as shepherd, the servant of the Good Shepherd, informed with charity and wisdom and simplicity of heart, leading his flock to the pastures of paradise. No minor task.

Notice that he did not mention board meetings or capital campaigns among his priorities. These are crucial things, often necessary to the smooth functioning of a large institution such as a diocese, but they are not first things. They are dependent upon the things he did mention. You raise funds to repair a church because that's where the sacraments take place. You have meetings to discuss a new school because that's where the faith is passed on.

First things come first, and they deserve pride of place. I'm glad that the archbishop-elect put them where they ought to be. I hope other bishops do the same.

1 comment:

  1. Your last two paragraphs are wonderful! I think his statement was just right. Now I know why the magazine is called "First Things". :)