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Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 20:56 GMT
Pope chooses Winning successor
Cardinal Winning
Cardinal Winning: "Hard act to follow"
The man chosen by Pope John Paul II to succeed Cardinal Winning as the Archbishop of Glasgow has been announced.

The Right Reverend Mario Joseph Conti, 67, will take over as the head of Scotland's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese.

Rt Rev Conti, who has been Bishop of Aberdeen since 1977, will take on the position which has been vacant since Cardinal Thomas Winning died in June last year.

Cardinal Winning died aged 76 after suffering a heart attack at his home in Glasgow, two days after being discharged from hospital following an earlier attack.

The Catholic Church in Scotland was only made aware of the appointment 45 minutes before the news was made public.

Mario Joseph Conti is the new Archbishop
Mario Joseph Conti is the new Archbishop

As Bishop of Aberdeen, he has been outspoken on ethical matters such as abortion and cloning and he said his new job would give him a platform to make those views widely known.

Bishop Conti said: "It is a great honour to be nominated Archbishop of Glasgow. I accept the challenge confident of the support of the clergy and the welcome of the faithful of the archdiocese.

"Together we will strive to make the Kingdom of God an ever greater reality."

He said he had known of his appointment for a number of weeks but had been sworn to secrecy.

He said his priority in his new job would be to meet the priests of the diocese to "find out their concerns".

Bishop Conti will formally be installed at a Mass planned to take place in St Andrew's Cathedral on 22 February.

Together we will strive to make the Kingdom of God an ever greater reality.

Archbishop Mario Conti
The new Archbishop said that Cardinal Winning was a "hard act to follow".

He said he was succeeding a man who was a saint and who had such ability and character.

"I would hope that as far as succeeding him, all that he has done, I might be able to build on and take advantage of the opportunities that he has opened up for us in the Catholic Church.

"I hope I will not lack courage to say what needs to be said when people expect it to be said."

The new Archbishop said that faith was the most important issue facing the church today.

Sense of hope

He said: "Our western society is increasingly secularised and faith seems to be marginalised.

"It's not so in other parts of the world, we only need to look with a telescope to other continents to see the faith is very vibrant."

The Archbishop believed the question of faith needed to be addressed with new vigour and a sense of hope.

He said it was important to overcome any religious problems which still existed in Glasgow.

"I come as an innocent from the north east and therefore perhaps with some advantage," he said.

"But I would hope that we would focus on something that is common to everyone and that we could overcome the sectarian divisions which in the past have divided society."

Bishop Conti was born in Elgin, Moray on 20 March 1934 and educated at St Marie's Convent and Springfield School.

He attended St Mary's College, Blairs, and Scots College in Rome before being ordained as a priest on 26 October 1958.

He served as an assistant priest for four years at St Mary's Cathedral, Aberdeen, from 1959 before becoming a parish priest in Wick.

After a four-year tenure he moved to Thurso in 1967 and spent the next decade as a parish priest.

In 1977 he was nominated as the bishop of Aberdeen and ordained by Gordon Gray, cardinal archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh.

BBC's Reevel Alderson reports
"He admits his new diocese presents difficult challenges"
See also:

25 Jun 01 | Scotland
Cardinal's people say goodbye
25 Jun 01 | Scotland
Bishop's tribute to 'church's man'
25 Jun 01 | Scotland
Picture gallery: Cardinal's funeral
21 Sep 00 | Scotland
Bishop rejects nun claim
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