The appointment on Wednesday of Monsignor Leo Cushley as the new head of Scotland’s Catholic Church is a welcome one for LGBT members of the faith, say observers.
Cushley, who assumes the title of Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, replaces Cardinal Keith O’Brien who resigned in disgrace in March this year. O’Brien admitted to sexual conduct with junior priests despite having been a vociferous opponent of same-sex relationships.
Having been instated as Archbishop, Mgr Cushley spoke of the need for “reconciliation and healing” within Catholicism in Scotland, and on the need for a sense of “charity.”
The Scotsman newspaper has reported that Cushley’s tone may see parallels to that of Pope Francis. Analysts of the church say that statements to date from the Pope have been characterized by a sense of humility, both in terms of himself and his faith.
Senior Catholic figures have recognized, when deciding on O’Brien’s successor, that having a cardinal condemn homosexuality while being involved himself in same-sex relationships leaves the Church open to the charge of hypocrisy.
Cushley, who has worked as a Vatican diplomat for almost 20 years, including a period in war-torn Burundi, has not been present in Scotland as the difficulties in the Catholic Church hierarchy there have arisen. Its noted his diplomatic skills will be relevant in bringing reconciliation to the Scottish Church and particularly for sexual and gender minorities.
It’s claimed that the Archbishop has already distanced himself from conservative members of the faith by refusing to condemn homosexuality as a “perversion” on Scottish Television News.