Yesterday, the Pope appointed a new Archbishop of Glasgow in a move likely to cause friction with the Scottish government over its plans for gay marriage.
With reports that ministers in Holyrood are seeking to delay a final decision over allowing same sex marriages, the installation of Tartgalia is likely to prove a headache for the Scottish government, following a series of high profile contributions attacking the same sex marriage proposal.
Speaking following the publication of a government consultation on its proposals, the Archbishop-Elect concluded in September last year:
“A government which favours and allows for same sex “marriage” does wrong. It fails in its duty to society. It undermines the common good.
“It commits an act of cultural vandalism. Such a government does not deserve the trust which the nation, and including many in the Catholic community, has shown in it.”
He later used a letter to first minister Alex Salmond to say of the proposals:
“Your apparent commitment to such a course, will, I fear, bring about a serious chill to relations between the Scottish Government and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.”
Responding to his appointment, Tartgalia said:
“I am conscious of the historic place of the Archdiocese of Glasgow in the history of Christianity in Scotland and of its importance for the Catholic community in particular. It is a great honour for me to be appointed Archbishop of my native city and diocese.”
Gordon Matheson, the Labour leader of Glasgow City Council meanwhile responded:
“I warmly welcome the appointment by Pope Benedict XVI of Bishop Philip Tartaglia as the new Archbishop of Glasgow. I look forward to working closely with him in the years ahead.
“I know that he will be constantly supported by the Catholic community of Glasgow as he fulfils his heavy responsibilities, and will benefit too from the co-operation of all people of goodwill in the city.”
Elsewhere a new poll of Christians has made the current Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, the clear favourite to take over from Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of the year.
The poll by ComRes for Premier Christian Radio found that 39% of all those questioned preferred Sentamu as their first choice, 31% ahead of his closest rival, Tom Wright, the previous Bishop of Durham, and currently a Professor at the University of St. Andrews. Significantly however 41% did not know who they would support.
Asked about the qualities needed in the next Archbishop, by far the most popular option, with support from 90% of respondents was a “desire to stand up for the beliefs and values of Christians”, followed by 77% who said an “ability to communicate with normal people” and 76% who stated a “well-versed in biblical knowledge.”
Significantly however given all that the Church gone through under Rowan William’s tenure, just 44% said that it was important that the next Archbishop is able to unite the Church of England.
Meanwhile, as he prepares to consider this evening with Rowan Williams and the Telegraph’s Charles Moore the role of religion in democratic societies, Tony Blair has warned that he feels that the West is “asleep” when it comes to tackling Islamic extremism.
Writing up an interview conducted with the former Prime Minister Charles Moore today writes:
“After September 11, 2001, he now thinks, he underestimated the power of the bad ”narrative’’ of Islamist extremists. That narrative – that ‘The West oppresses Islam’ – ”is still there. If anything, it has grown.’’ It seeks ”supremacy not coexistence’’.
He fears that ”The West is asleep on this issue’’, and yet it is the biggest challenge. In Africa, all the good things he sees through his Africa Governance Initiative face ”this threat above all others’’. In ”Sudan, Mali, Nigeria, outbursts in Tanzania and Kenya’’, sectarian Islamist extremism is the great and growing problem.
By implication, Mr Blair seems to doubt President Obama’s outreach to Islam, because it tends to deal with the wrong people. Since Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009, ”the whole context has changed’’. The Muslim Brotherhood is taking over large parts of the Arab world, and ”the people without the loudest voices are desperate for our leadership’’.
”We must engage, but also challenge….
[The Middle East] ”won’t achieve democracy unless it understands that democracy is a way of thinking as well as voting. The key question is how the majority treats the minority.’’
The West, he says, has been too slow to help the people of Iran:
”It is a great civilisation. The people would undoubtedly boot their government out at the ballot box if they could. It is important they know we are prepared to help them. A Persian spring would be very welcome.’’