Media Strategy will be in Place for Papal Visit, Bishop Assures Catholic Newspaper

The Catholic Church in Scotland will have its own media strategy in place for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Scotland in September.

This pledge was made by the Bishop of Paisley, Bishop Philip Tartaglia, who expects “the dying embers” of the child abuse scandal, which has recently besieged the Church, to be “fanned into flames” by the media as the date of the Papal Visit moves closer.

He was addressing a large congregation at St Aloysius Church in Glasgow yesterday, at a special Mass to celebrate the 125th anniversary.

Said Bishop Tartaglia: “An important dimension of the Scottish Catholic Observer’s mission has been to publicise, explain and support the faith and moral teaching of the Catholic Church, which is so much under attack in our increasingly secularist culture.

“This service to the Church is reflected by articles on Catholic witness in favour of unborn life and the life of the dying, and in the editorial in the current edition reflecting on the likely outcome of the General Election.

“There are also some embers of the blaze which was ignited in the world’s media around the appalling and distressing subject of the sexual abuse of minors by priests.

“I can’t help feeling that this will once again be fanned into flames as the Pope’s visit gets closer and we will need our media strategy and the assistance of the Scottish Catholic Observer to make sure that this disturbing and tragic phenomenon is reported both truthfully and fairly.”

Bishop Tartaglia was speaking in his capacity as the Bishop-President of the Communications Commission of the Bishops Conference of Scotland. The Commission is made up of Catholic media professionals and other qualified members.

He said: “It will come as no surprise to anyone to know that recognising the immense media implications of the forthcoming Papal Visit to Great Britain, the Commission has been working on a media strategy which will both assist the media – in its print, sound, visual and digital forms – to cover the Pope’s visit, and which will help to ensure the best possible legacy of the visit for the Catholic Church in Scotland and for Scotland as a whole.”

The paper is edited by former Scotsman journalist, Liz Leydon, and was founded by Charles Diamond and previously known as the Glasgow Observer, operating from city centre offices at 19 Waterloo Street.

Bishop Tartaglia added that the paper was “an independent publication which has always been consciously supportive of the Pope and the Bishops.”

He continued: “However that does not and must not stop it reporting on controversial and edgy issues for the Church, and of carrying points of views and perspectives which challenge the dominant position.

“I would not expect the paper to encourage dissent from authoritative Church teaching. I would be dismayed if that happened, but I would expect it to raise a critical voice on Church affairs if and when that was necessary.”

During the service, Archbishop Conti paid tribute to the late Harry Conroy, a former editor of the newspaper, whose sudden death last month was widely mourned by journalists, politicians and trade unionists across Scotland.