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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2020

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Veterans, Business Motion, Scottish National Investment Bank Bill: Stage 3, Scottish National Investment Bank Bill, Decision Time, Robert Burns in the Scottish Economy


Time for Reflection

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Linda Fabiani)

The first item of business this afternoon is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is Father John Eagers of St James Roman Catholic church in Renfrew.

Father John Eagers (St James RC Church, Renfrew)

Deputy Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, I thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

All of us, I hope, have our heroes; not necessarily people whom we aspire to become like, but those who inspire us to become better. One hero of mine is Nelson Mandela. It was once reported that a journalist said to him,

“Mr Mandela, people say that you are a saint,”

to which he replied,

“I am not a saint but rather a sinner striving to be a saint.”

Nelson Mandela was aware of his human frailties and wished to go beyond them, and, in doing so, to grow in holiness. After being released from 26 years of imprisonment, he could—justifiably—have looked for revenge, yet he chose to bring about peace and reconciliation for all people living in South Africa. He was a man of resilience and dignity who brought about immense change for his country and his people. That change was witnessed at the recent rugby world cup, which was won by a South African team captained by a black South African.

Another hero of mine is Pope Francis. It is his compassion, above all, that makes him inspirational. Last year, the BBC followed a number of celebrities making a pilgrimage through Italy. When they arrived in Rome, they received an audience with Pope Francis. During the audience, Pope Francis listened to them and responded to their questions. When Stephen K Amos, a comedian, said to Pope Francis,

“As a gay man, I don’t feel accepted,”

Pope Francis responded by saying,

“Giving more importance to the adjective rather than the noun, this is not good. We are all human beings and have dignity. It does not matter who you are or how you live your life, you do not lose your dignity. There are people that prefer to select or discard people because of the adjective—these people don’t have a human heart.”

Pope Francis shows that it is in treating people with compassion, and in respecting their dignity, that we act with dignity. It is that dignity that makes us all better and more joyful people. I hope that we are inspired by heroes to be better and happier people; and also that we, as people who are called to serve, will inspire others to become better and happier in the lives that they lead—whoever and wherever they may be.