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Home  >  News  >  Historic St Margaret Declaration Signed

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Historic St Margaret Declaration Signed

        Photo by kind permission of Keith Rennie

                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                          Wednesday November 16 2022

A HISTORIC Declaration of Friendship between the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church in Scotland was signed this afternoon in Dunfermline – with royal approval.

The St Margaret Declaration was signed by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields and Archbishop Leo Cushley, the leader of Scotland’s Catholics, at Dunfermline Abbey which was founded by St Margaret and is celebrating its 950th anniversary as a site of worship this year.  The Abbey is also the final resting place of Margaret and the service took place on the feast day of St Margaret (November 16). The Declaration was witnessed by HRH the Princess Royal.

The service followed the decision by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May to overwhelmingly approve a Declaration of Friendship with the Catholic Church to ‘recognise each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, and… wish to express our friendship and respect for one another as fellow Christians, citizens and partners in announcing the kingdom of God in our land’.

The Declaration recognises the ‘hurt and harm’ done by past disagreements and acknowledges that ‘some questions still divide us’ but seeks to ‘reaffirm that what we hold in common is often greater than what divides us’ and ‘commit ourselves to continuing our pilgrimage towards greater unity, as we believe that it is the Lord’s will that we be one’.

Ahead of the signing, Dr Greenshields said: "This is a relationship in which we stand alongside one another, support one another, rejoice together and weep together, pray for and with each other, and work together.

"I would want people across Scottish society to look at this new relationship between the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church and take away a powerful message – there is more that unites us than divides us as we strive to be an ever more united Christian voice in this land."

Preaching the sermon during the historic service, Archbishop Cushley said on the journey to the Declaration that ‘many on both sides have learned to become friends’.

He added: ‘We will continue to discuss and deepen our understanding of important points of division over our heritage; but meantime, more importantly, we believe, already, here and now, that where two or three of us are gathered together in the Lord’s name, He is there in our midst.

“We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We stand shoulder to shoulder before an unbelieving world. And we wish to respect each other, to be a support to each other, and to do all we can with patience and humility to achieve the unity that the Lord prayer for.”

He added: “And if St Margaret and the first men who came here nearly a thousand years ago were here with us now, I would like to think that they would welcome and approve of us setting out in this way, again, in friendship, to face the next thousand years, not as enemies or rivals, but as sisters and brother – and friends in Jesus Christ.”

More than 300 guests – including children from Dunfermline High School and many of the groups involved in the outreach of the Dunfermline Abbey congregation - were welcomed to the service by Abbey minister, the Rev MaryAnn Rennie who said the service also included a first performance of new piece of music – Thou Lord and God of Power by Lisa McMaster - which had been commissioned with the support of a grant from Creative Scotland.

The service also included the launch of a new fund by the congregation – St Margaret’s Gift – which will work principally with homeless people and their families in gaining tenancies through fundraising, donating goods and volunteering time.

The Princess Royal, who is patron of the St Margaret’s Chapel Guild, said she was ‘honoured’ to attend the service marking the signing of the Declaration and also paid a warm tribute to the Abbey congregation and those who had gone before who had kept it as “a place of active worship and a place of friendship and a place of refuge for many.”

 

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