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Bishop Conti: ‘I have a hard act to follow’


THE Pope has appointed Mario Conti, the Bishop of Aberdeen, to succeed the late Cardinal Thomas Winning as the new Archbishop of Glasgow.A simultaneous announcement took place yesterday in Rome and Glasgow where Bishop Conti, the favoured candidate, described his appointment as "a great honour".The archbishop-elect said his principal priority was to encourage the Catholic faith in an age that has become increasingly secular, marked by a rapid fall in church attendance and vocations to the priesthood. He also promised to continue to speak out against injustice and immorality but in a manner less abrasive than his predecessor. A member of the Catholic Bishops’ Joint Committee for Bio-Ethics, Conti has already argued against the concept of human cloning and existing embryonic stem cell research. He was a firm supporter of the late cardinal’s campaign to retain Section 28, the clause prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality in schools, which was repealed by the Scottish parliament two years ago. At a press conference in the offices of the Glasgow Archdiocese, the archbishop-elect said: "It is a great honour to be nominated Archbishop of Glasgow. I accept the challenge confident of the support of the clergy and the welcome of the faithful of the archdiocese. Together, we will strive to make the Kingdom of God an ever greater reality." He admitted that Cardinal Winning, who died of a heart attack in June last year, was a "hard act to follow" but he would do his best. "The style will be somewhat different but I hope I will not lack the courage when it’s necessary to speak out and say what needs to be said and what people expect us to say." He insisted the Church had a great deal of clarity and wisdom to offer the world. And he also hoped to foster stronger ecumenical relations between Catholics and Protestants, in a city still tarred by sectarianism. The fact that he has little interest in football and is unlikely to attend Parkhead, where Cardinal Winning was a Celtic season ticket holder, will be viewed by some ecumenists as an obvious advantage. "I come as an innocent from Aberdeen," he said. In many ways, the new archbishop is viewed as more urbane and sophisticated than his predecessor, happier at a classical concert or an art gallery opening than a sports event. He will be formally installed as the new archbishop at a ceremony at St Andrew’s Cathedral on 22 February and will travel to Rome in June to receive from the Pope a Pallium, a small woollen garment and symbol of a Metropolitan Archbishop.   At the age of 67, Bishop Conti comes to his new post after almost 25 years’ experience as the Bishop of Aberdeen. Where he previously administered over a rural diocese with 57 priests, he must now take responsibility for an urban diocese with almost 300 priests.

The Rev Tom McIntyre, the convener of the Church of Scotland’s ecumenical relations committee, praised the archbishop-elect’s "commitment warmth and enthusiasm".

Copyright of Stephen Mc Ginty of The Scotsman