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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 07 November 2017

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Apology (Same-sex Sexual Activity), Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill: Financial Resolution, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time, Respect for Shopworkers Week


Time for Reflection

Our first item of business this afternoon is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is Dr Jonathan Reyes, executive director of the department of justice, peace and human development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington.

Dr Jonathan Reyes (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Presiding Officer, members of the Scottish Parliament: thank you for allowing to me to be with you this afternoon.

The department that I manage for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is committed to what Pope Francis has called “integral human development”. The Catholic Church recognises that faith in God has consequences in all areas of life, including a profound commitment to help serve the development and flourishing of every person. I am in Scotland this week to give a series of lectures on one shining example of that kind of integral human concern: Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 to 1980.

For much of the past century, the country of El Salvador, an impoverished and majority Catholic country, was politically turbulent, caught between two warring parties: a ruling militaristic Government dominated by a few wealthy families, and Marxist revolutionary forces. As is always true in cases of political violence, it is the people of the country who suffer the most. Romero’s enduring concern was the welfare, spiritual and material, of those suffering people. He was born into a family of modest means and his service was marked by a consistent interest in and care for the people in his charge. He made the effort to truly know them and to understand their concerns by personally visiting with them. He stood in authentic solidarity with them.

Archbishop Romero was a man of peace who sought to find ways to reconcile warring factions. However, as the situation worsened and he saw that serious injustice was injuring his people, he spoke out. He called for an end to random killings and secret imprisonments, for more justice in governance and for peace between all parties. In so doing, he knew that he was risking his life. In his third year as Archbishop of San Salvador, Archbishop Romero was shot and killed while celebrating the mass. As he had given his energies during his life to serve his people, so he gave his blood in their defence.

In many ways, our politically turbulent times are not so unlike Archbishop Romero’s. May the God of peace help each of us to emulate the qualities for which Romero is rightly honoured: an authentic solidarity with those we serve, a generous personal concern for those most in need and unflinching courage in speaking and acting for justice and the genuine welfare of all. Thank you.

Thank you very much. Before we begin business this afternoon, I am sure that all members will wish to join me in thanking the emergency services and our own staff for their professionalism and assistance today. I also thank all members for their patience while the issue that we dealt with earlier was resolved.