Scottish archbishop recalls ‘honour’ of close work with Pope Benedict

Scottish archbishop recalls ‘honour’ of close work with Pope Benedict thumbnail


leading Scottish archbishop has recalled the “honour” of working closely with Pope Benedict XVI.

Leo Cushley was speaking after the Vatican confirmed the former pope’s death on Saturday, aged 95.

Mr Cushley, who has been Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh since 2013, accompanied him on international trips in his capacity as the head of the English language section of the Vatican Secretariat of State between 2009 and 2013.

That included trips to Malta, Cyprus and the UK in 2010.

In 2012, he took on an additional ceremonial position at the Vatican where he assisted Benedict when he received visits from prominent dignitaries.

The archbishop said the 2010 papal visit to the UK was a personal highlight.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also paid tribute to the former pope after his “special” visit to Scotland.

She wrote on Twitter: “Sad to hear of the death of Pope Benedict. His visit to Glasgow in 2010 was a very special moment in the life of our nation.

“My condolences to all those in the Catholic faith in Scotland and beyond – and to everyone across the world mourning him today.”

Benedict met the Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh before travelling to Glasgow for an open air Mass at Bellahouston Park.

It was the first papal visit to Scotland since Pope John Paul II in June 1982.

Benedict also had lunch with the archbishop at the official residence of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

Mr Cushley told BBC Scotland: “I had never seen anything like it. I don’t think the Pope had seen anything like it either as he was welcomed there.

“It was a wonderful day.”

He said the former pope’s visit captured the attention of many people in Scotland.

He added: “It was a lovely, happy occasion where not only the Catholics of Scotland welcomed their pope, the Bishop of Rome, many other people did that too.

“I could not have imagined it any better and, the way it worked out, I was very proud of the way my country welcomed Pope Benedict in their midst.”

He also recalled the “real kindness” of Benedict as he greeted school children in Edinburgh.

Mr Cushley added: “I had the honour of working with him closely towards the end of his time as pope, and I got to see this for myself.

“He was a good priest and a meticulous scholar. He was also quietly kind and available to people.

“His scholarship and his writing will be remembered in time to come, as will his humility and humanity.

“He will be deeply missed.”