Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

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Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Primary Tartan

Article excerpt

It ill becomes a Roman Catholic cardinal to start throwing teddy out of the cot just because he doesn't get his own way. Which is what His Eminence Cardinal Tom Winning seemed to be doing when he reviled the Scottish Parliament as an "utter failure" for persisting with its plan to scrap Section 2a (or Clause 28 as it is better, if inaccurately, known) and sticking to a "politically correct" agenda. Umbrage was duly taken. The Church of Scotland denounced Cardinal Winning for risking "damage to relationships between those who serve the nation politically and those who serve the nation in the churches", while the renowned parliament-backer Canon Kenyon Wright (Episcopalian) chided the Pope's man in Scotland for his narrow view and gross exaggeration.

And while Labour MSPs were keeping their heads below the parapet (fearful of the West of Scotland Catholic vote), the Tory whip, Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, did not hesitate to enter the fray. He dropped a note to His Eminence to say that, while he shared the concern over the way the Scottish Executive seems to have ignored public opinion, he was "naturally concerned by the implication that the Scottish Parliament as an institution is somehow to blame".

Cardinal Winning's remarks strike this diary as a case of the (ecclesiastical) pot calling the (parliamentary) kettle black. The Scottish Parliament may be having some trouble getting its act together, but it has only been at it for a year. The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has had about 1,500 years to do the same and seems to be failing dismally. Church membership is haemorrhaging, Catholic school rolls are collapsing, schools are being closed and fewer and fewer young Scots are showing any enthusiasm for the priesthood or the nunnery. "Utter failure" seems a reasonable description for the state of the institution over which Cardinal Winning presides. …

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