Cardinal O'Brien's replacement named as Monsignor Leo Cushley
- 24 July 2013
- From the section Scotland
The Vatican has confirmed the appointment of Monsignor Leo Cushley, 52, as the new Catholic archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.
He takes over from his disgraced predecessor Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who stepped down in February following sexual misconduct allegations.
The new archbishop was born in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, and became a priest almost 30 years ago.
He served initially in the Motherwell diocese before moving to Rome.
Mgr Cushley returns to Scotland at critical time for the church in the wake of the sex scandal.
The archbishop-elect, who will formally take over in September, said: "Only then will I be able to take stock of what has happened and see what can be done.
"It is my sincere hope to do this always in truth and in charity, with a view to reconciliation and healing among the Catholics of Edinburgh.
"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."
He was asked by the Vatican to relocate to Rome and join the Holy See's diplomatic service in 1992. He worked in Egypt, Burundi and Portugal before joining the Vatican's diplomatic team at the United Nations in New York.
He has also served in Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.
Most recently, he has been head of English Language Section in the Vatican, acting as interpreter for Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Francis has confirmed the appointment and the archbishop-elect will take up his duties in late September.
He will take over from Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow, who has been Apostolic Administrator following the resignation of Cardinal O'Brien, who held the post from August 1985 until March 2013.
Mgr Cushley, who speaks Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese, has been a close collaborator of both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis and has been regularly involved in the visits of heads of state and other important guests to the Holy See.
Recently he assisted as Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and the Archbishop of Canterbury called upon the Pope.
As head of the English section of the Secretariat of State, it was his task to accompany the Holy Father to English-speaking countries. During 2010 he accompanied Pope Benedict to Malta and Cyprus, as well as the UK.
During that visit, at Bellahouston, Mgr Cushley presented his family to Pope Benedict.
Mgr Cushley said: "I am humbled that our Holy Father Pope Francis has nominated me for such an important task. 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.
"There are certain important questions that I will also have to familiarize myself with. I have no jurisdiction in the diocese until after I have been ordained in late September."
Mgr Cushley said his appointment was "surprising" and he joked as held up a street atlas of Edinburgh, describing it as "my homework", given he has worked abroad for many years.
He said: "Coming from darkest Lanarkshire I used to just come over to Edinburgh to see the castle or the national gallery, go to a BB King concert or Tosca or something like that, but I am going to have to come over here now to live."
Mgr Cushley said he had "very little knowledge" about Cardinal O'Brien's situation and had never discussed it with Pope Francis, despite working closely with him in Rome.
He added: "I think there will always be a difference between what the Catholic Church preaches and teaches and the individuals who propose that message, who are sinful.
"We believe that you can recover from that, and there is reconciliation and there is forgiveness.
"You are not characterised by how you fall, but by how you pick yourself up."
Asked if the church was at its lowest ebb, Mgr Cushley said: "I don't think so. I think it has taken a bit of battering but the fundamentals are good and they are right."
The appointment was welcomed by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Lorna Hood, who said: "I offer Mgr Cushley my warmest congratulations and wish him every blessing in his new appointment.
"I look forward to meeting with him in the near future, and to a strong working relationship between our two churches."
First Minister Alex Salmond said: "I wish to pass on my warmest congratulations to Mgr Cushley.
"The Catholic church is integral to Scotland, making an enormous contribution to Scottish life and society and I look forward to this outstanding leadership continuing under the guidance of the new Archbishop."
Labour's Shadow Scottish Secretary, Margaret Curran MP, said: "I am looking forward to welcoming Mgr Cushley to Edinburgh when he takes up his new role in September. The Catholic Church plays an important role in our society and today marks the start of a new chapter."
Born in June 1961, Mgr Cushley has a brother and a sister. His father Bill, who died in 2007, was a baker, and his mother, Eileen, was a secretary.
A former pupil of Holy Cross High School in Hamilton, he studied for the priesthood at Blair's College, Aberdeen, and at the Ponitifical Scots College and the Gregorian University, both Rome.
He was ordained in Uddingston in 1985 and was based at various parishes in Motherwell, Airdrie and Wishaw before moving to Rome.
His pastimes include hill walking in the Scottish mountains and in the Abruzzi region of central Italy.
He is also a regular jogger and listens to audio books while running/walking 10km three times a week in Rome. He describes himself as "completely rubbish" on the golf course but enjoys watching the sport and attended the Open at Muirfield.
Musically, his tastes range from U2 to opera by Puccini, Verdi and Mozart.
His new role means he will now surrender his distinctive Vatican number plate as well as his diplomatic passport.
The archbishop-elect's episcopal ordination will take place in St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh on 21 September.