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Father Philip Tartaglia (St Mary's, Duntocher, Clydebank):
Good afternoon. This is the season of Lent, when Christian people throughout Scotland try to prepare for Easter through prayer, self-denial and works of charity, which are the traditional elements of Lenten practice, based on the teaching of Jesus.
This is the fourth week of Lent. In our parishes, the fourth week of Lent has been characterised for years by the annual collection for the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund—or SCIAF. This year, the collection is expected to raise a sum in excess of £570,000 in Scotland and is destined for third world development and for crisis areas throughout the world.
The work of the Scottish Parliament is largely to do with bettering people's lives. I suppose that all politicians must concern themselves with the plight of the poor and the needy; with reversing the fortunes of the homeless and the unemployed; with protecting the vulnerable—particularly children and the elderly—and with safeguarding minorities and those who seek shelter in our country from political or economic oppression.
It may encourage you to know that the Christian people of this land have a time in the year—namely, the season of Lent—when examining their lives and trying to root out selfishness and indifference from their hearts, and making a special effort to correct the injustices and inequalities that, unfortunately, are part of our human experience, is especially central to their faith in God and to their religious practice. In fact, it could be said that it is imprinted in the Christian psyche that religious observance that does not become active concern for those who are most needy is flawed in the eyes of God.
In the spirit of Lent, you as MSPs also could—and perhaps should—take time to review your lives and work. You are people of influence and
Thank you for inviting me to be here today. May God bless you and your work.