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Young people ‘don’t want me to sugar-coat’ the faith: Scottish Archbishop

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VATICAN CITY, October 25, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) ― The Scottish delegate to the Synod on Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment stated that young Catholics in his country have asked for orthodox teaching.

“The young people that I met before I came here wanted me to tell the Synod Fathers that they want to learn about the Catholic faith. They don’t want me to make it easy for them. They don’t want me to sugar-coat it for them,” Archbishop Leo Cushley of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh told a Vatican News reporter.

“They want to know ‘what it says on the tin,’ as it were,” he added with a chuckle. “And so they want me to be in a position to explain to them the richness of our Catholic faith and to put that before them.”

More than 100 young people in Scotland had also written a letter to the archbishop, outlining their desire for orthodox teaching, holy priests and beautiful liturgies. A member of the Australian Catholic Students Association told LifeSiteNews that this Scottish letter, reprinted in the Catholic Herald, had inspired them to write a similar letter to the entire Synod.

Cushley, 57, pointed out to his interviewer that young people today have the autonomy to accept or reject Catholicism, and his job is to present it as clearly and winningly as possible.

“They can choose to live that faith or not to live that faith, but my task is to try to do my best to make that understandable, something that they will be willing to embrace and to give their lives to,” he said.

“Because it will change their lives, and I believe it will change their lives for the better,” he added.

He reflected again upon the unprecedented freedom young people have today to choose from a variety of “lifestyles” from a marketplace of ideas.

“We would submit that there are some lifestyles that are more helpful than others,” he said. “There are some lifestyles which are more destructive than others. And so we would hope to set out our stall, at it were, like anyone else in the public square, and to make that as attractive and positive as possible.”

That does not mean diluting what the Catholic faith offers, however. Cushley underscored that an “attractive and positive” presentation of the faith must have no “exaggerating or diminishing the real challenges that there are because we believe that to live a life of holiness is a challenge.”

“It’s not going to be that easy,” he said, “but it can be grace-filled, it can be beautiful, and it can lead to happiness in this world as well as in the next.”  

Ordained to the priesthood for the central-western Scottish diocese of Motherwell in 1985, Cushley was sent to Rome in 1994 to study diplomacy and canon law. In 1997, he entered the Vatican’s diplomatic service and served in nunciatures around the world. From 2009 until 2013, Cushley was the head of the English-language section of the Secretariat of State, working closely with Pope Benedict XVI and accompanying him to English-language countries.

In July 2013, after the sudden resignation of the Archdiocese of St Andrew and Edinburgh’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Cushley was appointed by Pope Francis to be the historic diocese’s new ordinary. He was installed in September 2013 and set to work comforting Catholics shocked and grieved by allegations from anonymous accusers to British media that O’Brien had sought sexual favors from priests and a seminarian.

O’Brien stepped down in February, and in March made a public confession that his “sexual conduct had has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.” It is believed by some Catholics in Edinburgh that O’Brien was outed by members of a homosexual network of Scottish priests angry that the Cardinal, hitherto tolerant of same-sex activity in Catholic circles, notably that of teachers in Catholic schools, had campaigned against same-sex “marriage.”    

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