Pray for the Repose of the Soul of Former Archbishop of Glasgow – Mario Conti – RIPeditor
From the Scottish Catholic Media Office…
Scotland’s Bishops Mourn the death of Archbishop Mario Conti
8 November 2022
Commenting on the death this evening of Archbishop Mario Conti, the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Bishop Hugh Gilbert, Bishop of Aberdeen said:
“It was with great sadness that we learned today (8 November 2022) of the death of Archbishop Emeritus Mario Conti. His presence as a bishop has been a constant for so long, it is difficult to remember a time when he wasn’t an active or retired member of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.
As the current Bishop of Aberdeen I have many fond memories of him during his 25 years as Bishop of Aberdeen. Although he became Archbishop of Glasgow in 2002 his ties to the North East of Scotland remained strong. His interest in and knowledge of Scotland’s Catholic history was well known and his commitment to preserving the cultural heritage of the church was unwavering.
In his retirement, he was a source of great wisdom and pastoral support to his successors both in Glasgow and Aberdeen. His work in ecumenism and interfaith matters as well as his affection for the Italian community in Scotland were among his defining characteristics. On behalf of the Bishops of Scotland, we commend his soul into the hands of God and pray that he may enjoy eternal rest.”
Peter KearneyDirector Catholic Media Office
We should pray sincerely for the repose of the soul of Archbishop Conti; the fact that he has died in this Month of the Holy Souls should prompt us to pray and make sacrifices for him. May he rest in peace…
Archbishop Conti presided over the decline of the Church in Glasgow, so I agree he needs prayers.
You are correct – the archbishop did, indeed, preside over the decline of the Church in Glasgow and, in fact, holds responsibility for a number of scandals which hit the headlines.
While it is true that at our death we meet, not God’s mercy but His justice, in the economy of grace God can accept our pleadings “ahead of time”, so to speak. There are some consoling accounts of God applying prayers for a soul TO that soul after death in the little book I mentioned on another thread (Thirty Days Devotion to the Holy Souls) so I’ll try to find time later to search for an example.
Key takeaway – if we pray for a soul apparently in dire need of those prayers, remember that God knew we would offer that plea and He may have taken it into account at particular judgement. There is no time in eternity. So, let’s pray for the soul of Archbishop Conti today.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace.
I didn’t know much about Archbishop Conti and I didn’t know about those scandals the editor talks about. Even so, I believe that this is not the time to criticize for much damage that he could do as archbishop, but to pray for his soul.
The reason for mentioning scandals in these circumstances, when a priest or bishop has died, is to make sure people pray for him. If we start to treat death the way people do in the world, then we are not helping that soul. If he has led people astray that will be before him at his judgment, so it is only going to help him if we are praying for him.
I agree. I remember this time, in the BBC report, when he threw his brother bishop, Cardinal O’Brien under the bus. It was not edifying.
It is true, as you say, that remembering the scandals he caused should make us want to pray harder for him. RIP.
That BBC link should remind us to pray also for Cardinal O’Brien, RIP.
Are you from the Archdiocese of Glasgow? I ask because I am curious about your interest here – you reported that the archbishop was sick and then you came on here today about his death but not pleased at the mention of scandals he caused. Are you from Glasgow?
I see with sadness how in social networks some are already insulting and mistreating the archbishop, they do not respect even these moments
You (and those Twits – capital T deliberate) make the common mistake of believing the propaganda. It’s got nothing to do with them not respecting his death, it’s got more to do with their bad memories or ignorance of the truth of the matter. Allow me to explain…
The Scottish bishops (including Archbishop Conti) were routinely described in the secular and religious press of being “orthodox” and (a favourite) “Vatican hardliners” when they were no such thing. Quite the reverse, in fact. Now that we have the liberal Francis in Rome, of course, they are not so keen to cultivate that image but that is what they did back in the day. Far from opposing the LGBTQ+ lobby, the archbishop permitted Masses in their honour – as reported in this edition of our newsletter, p.19. https://catholictruthscotland.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Catholic-Truth_Newsletter_2012-05.pdf
However, I don’t see how those Twits are “insulting” and “mistreating” the archbishop by simply reporting the truth – they have believed the image of the faithful (to moral law) archbishop and now they are recalling it in the light of his recent passing. If the Scottish Catholic Media Office hadn’t wanted anyone to comment on his life, then they shouldn’t have published the news of his death. Simple.
Ok, I understand what you say. No, I’m not from Glasgow but from Spain. I am sorry for the damage Archbishop Conti caused to the Scottish Church and for upsetting you with my comments, which have been unwelcome.
You say you are from Spain, and in one of your previous comments on this blog you claim not to be all that fluent in English. I don’t buy it. Fluency gets 10/10. Transparency, 0/10.
I dug out some of your previous comments – few and far between as they have been – and always, to date, you present with a commentary or question on UK bishop(s).
For example, you came on here with a list of English bishops, asking for our opinions on the orthodoxy of each one, supposedly out of interest to discover if any would be likely to be the next archbishop of Westminster. To be honest, the day I start caring about who is likely to be the next Archbishop of Madrid, will be the day after I’ve lost my taste for chocolate. Won’t happen.
So, spill… Who are you and what is Nicola Sturgeon paying you to spy on us?
RIP. We were taught not to speak ill of the dead. Nuff said………………….
Regardless of all his decisions and frailties we all possess them in faith and confidence he now looks upon a different face eternally speaking . RIP Amen
Crofterlady, Nicky, Michael,
Have you ever wondered why the Church appointed a Devil’s Advocate to probe into the lives of the candidates for Beatification and Canonisation? The Devil’s Advocate was charged with doing his utmost to find faults, sin, scandals in the life of the deceased, anything which would rule out his/her Cause from progressing. This was to ensure that when the Church declares someone to be in Heaven, that soul is in Heaven. Interesting, don’t you think, that the office of Devil’s Advocate was abolished by none other than “Saint” Pope John Paul II. Reflect.
It’s certainly a good rule of thumb to not “speak ill of the dead” unnecessarily. They’re gone now so there’s no point. But it is NOT “speaking ill of the dead” to remind ourselves that any dead churchman, including Archbishop Conti, was negligent in his high office. There is no comparison between his life and death and our humble lives and deaths.
My hope is that everyone who reads this thread will pray very hard for the soul of Archbishop Conti because – like many, if not most, modern churchmen including recent popes – he was negligent in the conduct and execution of his office, and he will not thank us for false charity, preferring instead our prayers to obtain his deliverance from Purgatory. Most of us will have to pass through Purgatory and we won’t be thrilled to see/hear our friends and relatives on earth extolling our [in my case non-existent/imagined] virtues while we languish in that place of purification/suffering. The archbishop will likewise appreciate our prayers and lament our well-meaning but misplaced charity.
Let’s now stand and sing two verses of They are waiting for our petitions… 😀
My remarks, they were charitable yes, but like you l am absolutely under no illusions about his tenure and his ecclesiastical decisions?!!! in this Archdiocese.
We are living with them still and this established paradigm will continue until Heaven decides otherwise.
Ultimately Our Father in Heaven shall sort this mess out. I hope and pray that He in his holiness and wisdom will in His time address the diabolical crisis in the Church nationally and globally.
Editor, honestly I don’t know how to take your comment. Am I to understand that it bothers you that I intervene to ask about the Scottish bishops? I know it may surprise you but from there to saying that someone pays me goes a long way. I write asking for the bishops of many countries because I am interested. Many people my age are interested in other things, but I am interested in learning about European episcopates. Is this a crime? I don’t understand your reaction. If I am not welcome here I will understand but I write on sites like “Le forum catholique” in France asking about the French bishops being from Valencia in Spain and they have not kicked me out of there for seeming “weird” nor have they told me that Macron pays me.
Well, my comment about Nicola Sturgeon paying you, is a simple joke, just a bit of fun, so please don’t take offence. I’d say she’s a Scot and so is unlikely to be generous with paying for anything but that would be “racist” and we can’t have that. I’m assuming that even a Scot can’t say “racist” things about other Scots. Such is the madness of the world in which we live these days.
As for the rest – well, we’ve been plagued here with trolls over time, so I have wondered about someone from Spain popping in to ask about English bishops and then coming back to alert me to the illness of a former Archbishop of Glasgow. It did strike me as a tad unusual. I need to get out more.
Anyway, now that you have explained that you are interested in European episcopates, that it is a particular interest of yours, I accept that you are an innocent party. But hang on…
Nobody is “kicking you out” or called you “weird”; nor have you been accused of a “crime”, so let’s not overegg the pudding. You are welcome. Be assured.
And don’t forget to pray for Archbishop Conti. I have a strong sense that he will be very grateful.
RIP Archbishop Conti. May he rest in peace.
Tributes have centered around his refurbishment of Glasgow Metropolitan Cathedral as well as gushing thanks from Protestants for dignifying them via ecumenism. Respectfully, these are hardly the central planks of an ecclesial office executed boldly and effectively.
As with his direct predecessor and direct successor, history will show that his term was a period of failure and decline for the Church in Glasgow and wider Scotland.
Let us hope the current (new) Archbishop of Glasgow might have some modest success to change this dismal record.
I forgot to say, when the (Glasgow) Herald announced +Conti’s death, the article initially carried a picture of Archbishop Tartaglia.
Hard to imagine that as a genuine mistake, from what would describe itself as as quality newspaper – and from the same City as the Archbishops mentioned.
I’m not too sure about that – every profession falls short these days, as I was just discussing with a friend. People don’t approach their jobs with the same pride, IMHO. We’ve seen how the GPs are doing everything in their power to avoid returning to work as usual – in my practice, we have to have a phone conversation with the doctor to decide if we need to book a visit to the surgery. So, I’m not too surprised at that sort of carelessness in the newspaper industry.
I notice, as you say, that the tributes are focusing on his refurbishment of the cathedral and his ecumenism. Neither of those “achievements” will serve him well now, at least I seriously doubt it.
From the Scottish Catholic Media Office…
Homily for the funeral of Archbishop Mario Conti
Friday 18 November 2022
In his homily for the funeral of Archbishop Mario Conti at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow, Bishop Hugh Gilbert, the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and the Bishop of Aberdeen said, Archbishop Conti would be remembered with “real affection and appreciation” as “a good and faithful servant” of the church.
Bishop Gilbert added: “He will be remembered for his ecumenical sensibility and his wide and appreciated involvement in dialogue with other Christians”
The funeral of Archbishop Conti took place at 12 noon on Friday 18 November 2022 at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow.
The full text of Bishop Gilbert’s homily is shown below.
Homily of Bishop Hugh Gilbert for the funeral of Archbishop Mario Conti.
“Remembering Mario, and his long, rich and fruitful life, it’s hard not to smile. He had a certain manner, shall we say, a certain sense of the bella figura and his own dignity. As a boy at Blairs, it was well-known that he had no love for football but plenty for performing in Gilbert and Sullivan. In later years, Cardinal Winning, God forgive him, found the mannered, aesthetic side of Mario an irresistible target. But the more one knew Mario, the more one realised that, despite appearances, he would not have been finally or fully happy as a Renaissance Prince-Bishop or as a Prelate of the Ancien Regime. He had too much heart, too much humanity. The “boy from Barga” or, more strictly, the “Elgin loon”, always came out on top. An Aberdeen parishioner told me how luridly Mario had been described to him, and how then, on a pilgrimage, he met this warm, humorous, approachable bishop who was just happy sitting on the grass and chatting with the folk for an hour and a half.
Here, I suppose, I must declare an interest. I first set eyes on Mario when I was 25 and very recently professed as a monk. I can still picture him. It was a February day of fearsome winter weather, and he was sitting by the fire in the Chapter House of Pluscarden Abbey, the early 40s parish priest of Wick and Thurso, bright-eyed and with a notable nose. A few days later the community we heard that he had been appointed Bishop of Aberdeen. Later, he would ordain me as a deacon, and as priest, bless me as abbot, and co-ordain me as bishop – all that over a span of 30 years. I think of him as sacramentally a father. And it was a grace to visit him, with others, on the day he died.
An addendum to his will, written twenty years ago, just after his coming here, reads: “I desire to proclaim my confidence in God’s mercy, as I end my days – and to acknowledge the gift of his grace when called to priestly and episcopal service”. In the light of that last phrase, and of today’s Gospel (his choice), of his episcopal motto (drawn from the liturgy) sincero corde servire, “to serve with a sincere heart”, it’s natural for us today to recall something of that service. He was 64 years a priest and 45 years a bishop. In his Elgin Primary School, he famously declared his desire to become Pope. Well… His priesthood, and its fullness as bishop, was his life and his love, and they touched many lives over those many years.
Ordained in 1958, his youthful ministry would have coincided with the pontificate of St John XXIII and then with the Second Vatican Council. The latter shaped him. He was always a man of the Council.
After a spell at St Mary’s Cathedral, Aberdeen, he was sent to Caithness, far to the north and a world of its own. Wick was already a church and a parish, but Thurso was not. He had the church and the presbytery built there. So, at St Anne’s, Thurso, all those years ago, an interest began that culminates in this St Andrew’s Cathedral so transfigured by his renovations. And today, coincidentally, is the memorial of St Fergus, patron of Wick. After 15 years in Caithness – too long he thought in one such place – he was nominated bishop. And the rest is history and part of the story of many of us here. For the dissertation for his Licence, he had written on Newman’s On Consulting the Faithful in matters of Doctrine. Newman remained a luminary for him. He had his episcopal heroes, too: the Consul of God, Pope Gregory the Great, from whose feast he chose two of today’s readings, and the gracious Savoyard, St Francis de Sales. “A Christian gentleman” was how an Aberdeen worthy once described Mario to me.
One can only touch on some features of his episcopal years – almost 25 of them in Aberdeen and some 10 in post in Glasgow, a tale of two cities. It was an episcopal service, framed we could say, by the two papal visits to Scotland, St John Paul’s in 1982 and Pope Benedict’s in 2010. In his unique way, Mario traversed that particular epoch of Scottish Church history, perhaps yet to be defined and already different from where we are now. He enjoyed civic events, knew how to work a room and was a good dinner companion. I was always struck how consistently, in such settings, he confessed the faith. He would speak up for the Church and Christian tradition. He was never embarrassed at being Catholic. “As far as I am concerned, he said, we are part of Scottish society. The Catholic Church is not foreign to Scotland.” He relished recalling Catholic history. After one of his lengthy sermons in an historic Moray church, a visiting prelate commented that “Mario has turned the pages of history for us, indeed leaving no page unturned.” He will be remembered for his ecumenical sensibility and his wide and appreciated involvement in dialogue with other Christians and the workings of the various ecumenical bodies. In later years, he engaged, with no less commitment, in inter-faith relations. He supported the Catholic knightly orders (represented here). He could be a sharp and perceptive critic of the extravagances of secularism, the errors of government and social injustice. He was an eloquent advocate of a bioethics that respected the dignity of the human person, from conception to natural death and consistently upheld the Christian vision of marriage.
On another front, he was always well-disposed to Religious orders and Congregations. To my own community, he was a stalwart friend and always a welcome visitor. He remembered picnicking as a boy with his parents and sister in the Priory grounds before the monks returned. His father prophesied that they would, and when in 1948 they did, the teenage Mario served at the official opening Mass. Undeterred by contemporary barbarians, he championed the cultural heritage of the Church, both in Scotland and more widely as part of a Pontifical Council for Culture. Indeed, the future of St Mary’s Chapel, Blairs was a preoccupation of his last days. If in some domains, he didn’t always hit the right note – or was it just the politically correct note he didn’t hit? – there was never any doubt of his commitment. In the northeast, I can say from experience, he brought the Church down from the glens, as it were, and out of the back streets. He wasn’t willing for it or its bishop to be consigned to the footnotes. The University of Aberdeen was the first to give him an honorary doctorate and he celebrated the first Catholic Mass since the Reformation in Bishop Elphinstone’s University church. It said a lot that at the time of the Piper Alpha Disaster in 1988, it was he who led the mourning in Aberdeen. An obituary that described Mario as “effete” was seriously wide of the mark. He was perceptive, practical and firm, sustained by a sense of self and of mission.
I don’t mean to weary you by recalling all this nor to degenerate into eulogy. I want to find the way, rather, to what was at the heart of this multi-faceted ministry. What held it together? It was the ideal of service, the service of the Lord and of his people. And it was the liturgical-sacramental-preaching role of the bishop which stood at the centre of this service and energised its every ramification. He was a natural celebrant. He must have confirmed a great number of young people over the years, celebrated many ordinations and performed the Eucharist in many varied settings. He liked to recall that. He cared for and about the liturgy. His first pastoral letters as bishop were a commentary on the order of Mass. He encouraged communion under both kinds. He introduced the permanent diaconate to Scotland. It was in his cathedrals and elsewhere that he could, in St Paul’s words, “preach Christ Jesus as Lord” and “ourselves as his servants” and could, albeit an earthenware vessel, communicate the Treasure. How he will enjoy the Isaian banquet!
Remembering Mario, we remember a good and faithful servant, and pray that through the intercession of our Lady of Aberdeen, and of Ss Peter and Paul, and St Mungo, his judgment may be merciful. And we, the Catholic people of Scotland, as well as our friends of other denominations and religions and in civic society, have much to be grateful for. It is much more than a smile at some human foibles he leaves with us. It is real affection and appreciation. “Heart speaks to heart”. He certainly speaks to mine, and I don’t think I’m alone.
When he spoke at his own ordination as bishop in 1977, he quoted St Gregory the Great: “Son of man, I have appointed you as watchman for the house of Israel.’ Now a watchman takes up his position on the heights so that he can see from a distance whatever approaches…Who am I? What kind of watchman am I? I do not stand on the pinnacle of achievement; I languish rather in the depths of my weakness. And yet the Creator and Redeemer of mankind can give me, unworthy though I be, the grace to see life whole and power to speak about it effectively. It is for love of him that I do not spare myself in preaching.” He wrote those words out again in 2002 and in another note of 2016 called them “still dear to me”.
Dear Mario, your preaching, celebrating and pastoring done, may you rest in peace and enter into the joy of your Lord. Amen.”