Papal diplomat to head Edinburgh archdiocese

Pope Francis has appointed a former papal diplomat to head the scandal-struck St Andrews and Edinburgh archdiocese, replacing Cardinal Keith O’Brien who resigned in February amid revelations of sexual misconduct.

The archbishop-elect, Monsignor Leo Cushley, is a Scot who was a priest in the diocese of Motherwell before being called to Rome to be trained as a diplomat.

Commenting on his appointment, Monsignor Cushley, 52, said the Church in Edinburgh had “taken a bit of battering” but “I think the fundamentals are good and they are right. The priests and the people are very anxious to move on, and I am with them on that.”

He said “I know it’s a delicate moment and that there is a lot to be done, but with God’s grace and the kind support of
the clergy and people of Edinburgh, I will work cheerfully and willingly with all the energy I can muster….

“My first task is to preach the good news, Christ crucified and risen from the dead, to confirm my brother priests in their Catholic faith and ministry, and to be a loving, simple, wise shepherd to the flock that has been entrusted to me.”

As a diplomat, Monsignor Cushley served in Burundi, Portugal, at the United Nations in New York, South Africa and Botswana.

He is currently head of the English-language section of the Vatican Secretariat of State, in which capacity he accompanied Pope Benedict XVI to Malta, Cyprus and Britain.

Last year he was named Prelate of the Anticamera of the apostolic palace — a ceremonial post that includes assisting the Pope when he receives visits from heads of state and other high-profile visitors to the Vatican.

Monsignor Cushley’s appointment leaves three of the eight dioceses in Scotland without a bishop. A fourth bishop is due to retire.

Cardinal O’Brien, who stepped down in February after claims of inappropriate behaviour dating back to the 1980s, said at the time: “I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.”


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Image: The Guardian

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