Thursday, 27 June 2013

Scottish Bishop Appointments

I have seen, and heard, it alluded to on several occasions and by differing persons of varying supposed authority, that appointments to the Hierarchy of Scotland in particular, but also to Anglophone places in general, are “usually” made on a Tuesday. I had myself never formed this impression and while not certain that it was untrue, I was unsure whether it was true. So I had a wee look back at appointments to the Scottish Hierarchy in relatively recent days.

For me, that meant starting with James Donald Scanlan in whose choir I sang at Motherwell Cathedral as a young boy. I can remember Fr George Donaldson coming into our classroom in the Hall of Our Lady of Good Aid, Cathedral, Primary School, Motherwell, in January of 1964, my class were in our last year, to tell Mr Donnelly, our teacher and the deputy Head, that Bishop Scanlan had been appointed Archbishop of Glasgow (later, I sang at his successor’s, Bishop Thomson’s, episcopal ordination and installation on February 24, 1965, my first year at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell).

Archbishop Scanlan was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Dunkeld on Saturday, April 27, 1946, and succeeded on Tuesday, May 31, 1949, but this was because of the death of Bishop Toner and not a Vatican announcement. He was translated to Motherwell on Monday, May 23, 1955, and from there to the Metropolitan See of Glasgow on Wednesday, January 29, 1964. Not a Tuesday in sight.

However, Archbishop Tartaglia was appointed to Paisley on Tuesday, September 13, 2005, and subsequently translated to the Metropolitan See of Glasgow on Tuesday, July 24, 2012. But then Archbishop Conti was appointed to Aberdeen on Monday, February 28, 1977, and translated to the Metropolitan See of Glasgow on Tuesday, January 15, 2002.

Our three resident cardinals are a mixed bag (in more ways than one): Cardinal Gray was appointed to the Metropolitan See of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh on Wednesday, June 20, 1951; Cardinal Winning was appointed Auxiliary of Glasgow on Friday, October 22, 1971, and translated to the Metropolitan See of Glasgow on Tuesday, April 23, 1974, and; Cardinal O’Brien was appointed to the Metropolitan See of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh on Thursday, May 30, 1985.

In Aberdeen, Bishop Gilbert was appointed on Saturday, June 4, 2011, whilst his predecessor, Bishop Moran, was appointed on Monday, October 13, 2003. In Motherwell, Bishop Devine had been appointed Auxiliary in Glasgow on Thursday, May 5, 1977, and was translated to Motherwell on Friday, May 13, 1983. His predecessor, Bishop Thomson (Francis Alexander Spalding Warden, crazy name but a remarkably clever guy: First Class Honours in Maths from both Edinburgh and Cambridge universities) was appointed on Tuesday, December 8, 1964.

The current Administrator of Motherwell Diocese, Bishop Toal, was appointed to Argyll and The Isles on Thursday, October 16, 2008. His predecessor, Bishop Murray, was appointed on Wednesday, November 3, 1999 (his predecessor, Roddie Wright, of unhappy memory, had been appointed on Tuesday, December 11, 1990).

I acknowledge that this is not an exhaustive survey of all the appointments to the Scottish Hierarchy since the restitution of 1878, but I think it fair to point out that Tuesday has been the day of appointment on a few occasions but in truth appointments have come on every day of the week, bar Sunday alone (for obvious reasons).

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