Bishop’s conference letter

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

On 11th October, the Holy Father will open a special Year of Faith for the Catholic Church throughout the world. This year is intended to be a special time of grace in which to discover or rediscover the life-changing experience of encountering Jesus Christ.

The Year of Faith will coincide with two anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Vatican Council II and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Holy Father is anxious that during the year ahead we take up again and read the texts of the Council of Fathers, and rediscover the full beauty of the Catholic Faith as set out in the Catechism and its related texts, the Compendium of the Catechism and YouCat, the Youth Catechism.

Besides this appeal to personal study and prayer, during the next year a series of special events will be run at international, national and local level. It is important that you be fully aware of the great opportunities opened up by this special Year of Faith.

In Rome the opening ceremony will take place in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday 11 October, the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Vatican Council II. Archbishop Philip Tartaglia will be there to represent Scotland at that ceremony and thereafter participate in the Synod of Bishops from round the world to discuss how to implement the New Evangelisation of our society for which the Holy Father has called.

During the year, there will be many memorable moments. For example it is planned that on 2 June nest year, the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Blessed Sacrament will be adored at the same time all over the world. On 7 July next year seminarians and novices from all over the world will gather in St. Peter’s Square. There will also be special events in Rome for families, Church Movements and a variety of other groups and associations.

At a national level we plan several major initiatives. Among these are the following:

– Mass with the Bishops of Scotland for all those who have the responsibility of transmitting and passing on the faith in our families and schools.

– We are planning a St. Andrew’s Conference on the New Evangelisation 50 years after Vatican II. We are delighted to say this event will be addressed by Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia and a member of the Central Committee of the Year of Faith; and Bishop Arthur Serratelli from the United States who will speak on the Liturgy and the New Evangelisation.

– Next June, the whole of Scotland will be invited to celebrate the 1450th anniversary of the arrival of St Columba on the island of Iona.

– Next summer there will be a major event for young people to coincide with World Youth Day in Brazil, at which we will replicate locally the experience of faith which is taking place with the Holy Father in Latin America, and link up – via satellite – to the events in Rio.

– Next autumn we plan a national pilgrimage to the Holy Land from Scotland, to walk in the footsteps of Christ and rediscover the beauty and the insights of the scriptures.

Details of dates and venues for these and other events will be communicated and published in good time. Meanwhile each diocese and parish will have its own programme of events and opportunities for you to grow in faith during this special time of grace.

To assist you to keep your daily focus on Christ we will shortly be launching a series of aids to prayer and devotion through a special Year of Faith website and daily inspirational messages delivered by the modern technologies of Facebook and Twitter. We hope that our young people especially will avail themselves of these means of drawing closer to Jesus Christ which are offered to them in that digital language in which they are so proficient. A special prayer card has also been produced to help us in our devotional life.

We can do no better that to end with the words of the Holy Father, who sums up the Year of Faith very simply and effectively in his letter Porta Fidei – the Door of Faith. In it he writes: “May this Year of Faith make our relationship with Christ the Lord increasingly firm, since only in Him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love.”

Yours devotedly in Christ

Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh President of the Bishop’s Conference of Scotland

Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow President of the Bishops’ Working Group on the Year of Faith