Scottish Reformation to be marked by joint Presbyterian-Catholic event

By staff writers
October 28, 2010

The legacy of the Scottish Reformation is to be marked with a joint conference organised by the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church in Scotland.

There will also be an evening service at the High Kirk, otherwise known as St Giles Cathedral.

Entitled 'Scottish Reformation – Marking the Legacy, Imagining the Future', the ecumenical conference hosted by the Joint Commission on Doctrine at the Storytelling Centre, High Street, Edinburgh, on 3 November 2010, will be opened by the Archbishop Mario Conti, Joint Convener of the Commission.

The Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, will address the conference.

The event includes guest speakers such as former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Very Rev Dr Sheilagh Kesting, the Rev Dr Alan Falconer, Joint Convener of the Commission (and a long-term player in World Council of Churches Faith and Order issues), the Rev Dr Alison Peden, from the Scottish Episcopal Church, and Catholic historian, Professor Tom Devine.

Also in the line-up is Professor Paul Murray, an expert in the field of ecumenism, who will be sharing the floor with Dr Kesting discussing ecumenical relations today and in the future. Each session will run along the lines of the question, 'What has the Reformation done for us?"

Such an ecumenical event would have been difficult to conceive even 30 years ago, say the two churches.

Mutual distrust and suspicion, caricatures and stereotypes of each other inhibited positive relationships. Through patient dialogue on major theological issues, mutual respect and understanding has grown and developed - as well as much better relations at community level, where the legacy of sectarianism has been challenged - if not yet eliminated, say some critics.

"This year alone we have seen vast strides taken in ecumenical relationships," said the Church of Scotland, announcing the ground-breaking conference.

Pope Benedict XVI came to Scotland and met the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Rev John Christie - after an initial diplomatic mishap.

"The visit was a sign of the continuing work of Christ’s Church in the 21st century and helped strengthen interfaith and interdenominational relations," a Kirk spokesperson declared. "The conference and service is another example of the continuing work of the church in what has been an exciting year for the Christian Community in Scotland."

"We have learned to accept that the theological issues we disagree on are less important than those we agree on. Today there is agreement on the central affirmations of the Apostles’ Creed.

"The conference and service allow the churches to build on existing relations and helping to creating momentum to continue working together on issues of common interest. It shows that the denominations are striving towards working together in the spirit of the Lund Principle of 1952; that is, that churches should not do apart what they can do together.

"An event of this kind gives us an opportunity of healing of memories. From the past we can learn how to deal with the present. Old wounds are healed and relations are strengthened by it," he said.

The day conference begins at 9am until 5.15pm at the Storytelling Centre followed by a service at St Giles Cathedral with guest preacher, the Very Rev Dr John Miller, at 6pm.


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