Bishop's Scott's allocution following his ordination to the Episcopate on May 31, 2016.
I would like to begin by expressing my deepest gratitude to His Holiness Pope Francis.
It was in no small part due to reading the early Church Fathers, and finding there (among so many other compelling truths) Apostolic Succession and the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, that led me into the fullness of the Catholic faith as a young man. To now be called by the successor of St. Peter to be a successor to the Apostles is deeply humbling. I receive this call with a firm obedience, and deep love for Mother Church, the Bride of Christ.
Thank you Archbishop Prendergast for consecrating me a bishop this evening. You have been a faithful friend and support these many years. Ever since the days when I was that brash young seminarian in your Scripture classes - questioning everything and annoying you to no end!
Thank you Monsignor Theriault. Thank you for your presence here as a co-consecrator and for your warm welcome into the Ordinariate. But more importantly for 18 years of dedicated service. May God richly reward your faithfulness.
Thank you Monsignor Riesbeck, my other co-consecrator and my brother Companion of the Cross. Your presence, and even more - your friendship, are a great consolation and strength to me.
Thank you Archbishop Bonazzi, papal Nuncio to Canada, for your very fine and gracious words; to all my brother Bishops here; priests, deacons, sisters, pastoral associates, and all the faithful. A warm welcome to the members of the Interfaith Committee of Canadian Military Chaplaincies. And to all my family and friends, many of whom travelled great distances to share this day.
There are so many people I would like to individually thank, but we would be here all night, and I say that quite literally. You know who you are! I treasure each and every one of you!
But I do want to mention one man in particular: my mentor, my inspiration, and my spiritual father in Christ - Fr. Bob Bedard, the Founder of the Companions of the Cross. He taught me by word and, more importantly, by example, what it means to be a shepherd after Gods own heart.
To us - my brother Companions, my sisters the Servants of the Cross, and to our Associates, he gave a bold vision of life and ministry that has formed me and inspired my deepest heartfelt convictions of what Mother Church can and should be.
I can only pray that I may bring to my new episcopal mission even a small portion of that same tender fatherly care, single hearted love for the Lord and his people, determination and fortitude, and joyful Spirit-filled fire that burned in his heart.
I was raised with a deep respect for the Armed Forces. 100 years ago my grandfather was fighting in the fields and mud trenches of France with the Fort Gary Horse. One of my uncles stormed Juno beach on D-day and helped to liberate the Netherlands with the Queens Own Rifles, while two more uncles served in the Pacific theatre with the U.S. Navy. And a number of relatives have served since that time - right up to today.
"I am proud of this heritage. I consider it an honour to be the Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of Canada."
In this fallen world there is the unfortunate need of nations for legitimate armed self-defence. There is also the need, and at times even the moral imperative, to protect the freedom, God-given human dignity, and basic human rights of the helpless, the oppressed, and the victims of terror and unjust aggression.
As a last resort, once all peace efforts have failed, some must stand and physically resist evil. But it must be done with moral integrity, personal virtue, and a genuine love of peace.
The great Father of the Church, St. Augustine, a fourth Century bishop, wrote a letter to a Catholic soldier. His words are just as true and relevant today and as your new bishop I offer them once again to all our Canadian Catholic soldiers (those present here and those watching on Salt & Light on our many Army, Navy, and Air Force bases throughout the country):
Peace should be the object of your desire; war should be waged only as a necessity, and waged only that God may by it deliver men from the necessity and preserve them in peace. For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace may be obtained. Therefore, even in waging war, cherish the spirit of a peacemaker, that, by conquering those whom you attack, you may lead them back to the advantages of peace; for our Lord says: Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9)
This is what it is for you to be a Catholic Christian in the military. It is a noble calling - to be respected and admired. I know I speak for everyone here in saying to all of you, sincerely from the heart, thank you! Thank you.
You deserve the very best spiritual support, and that means the full truth about the meaning of your lives - lives which you may be called to sacrifice for the good of others. You deserve the fullness of life, the fullness which only comes from a living relationship with the One who gives every life meaning: the Lord, the God of Hosts, who is our awesome Creator, our loving Father, our deepest desire, the fulfilment of every authentic human longing, and the hope of infinite glory.
It is critical that you have the opportunity to personally encounter and grow into ever deeper communion with the incarnate Mercy of the Father, the Lord Jesus, as he truly is. Not as some remote historical figure, or some mere prophet or great moral teacher, but as the promised Messiah and Saviour. The Risen Lord of all creation, the Head of the Church, who is very much Alive and on the move! Invading what St. Paul calls ‘this present darkness’; establishing the Kingdom of God in us and among us, reconciling us to the Father, sending upon us his promised Holy Spirit, and mobilizing us in his own saving mission, as his disciples, friends, soldiers, and ambassadors of reconciliation.
What advantage is temporal peace or military victory to any of us if we have no peace with God? … If we are defeated in the infinitely greater spiritual battle that we heard proclaimed in today’s second reading? Indeed, as Jesus himself asked, “what does it profit anyone to gain the whole world and then lose their own immortal soul?”
To all of us who minister in the Ordinariate, we are called to bring our troops and their families the comforting solace of God's revealed truth and his life-transforming Presence - especially in the Eucharist, in Confession, and in the other Sacraments. Pope Francis highlighted this in a recent address to priest-chaplains:
"The role of the military chaplain is to accompany and support them in their journey, being for all of them a consoling and fraternal presence," he said. "You can pour on the wounds of these persons the balm of the word of God, which relieves pain and infuses hope; and you can offer them the grace of the Eucharist and of reconciliation, which nourishes and regenerates the afflicted soul."
Military personnel must also be provided the wisdom and moral clarity necessary to form their consciences amidst the ethical ambiguities of social conflict. And compassionate personal spiritual care when their service, or the many vicissitudes of military life, has left them or their families discouraged, broken, wounded in body or in mind and heart, needing guidance and prayer, or just an understanding ear.
Once again Pope Francis summarizes this well in speaking to all who minister in Military Ordinariates – clergy and lay pastoral associates:
"At this time, in which we are living a 'third world war fought in pieces,' you are called to nourish the spiritual and ethical dimensions of members of the military and their families, which will help them to face the difficulties and the often lacerating questions inherent in this unique service to their homeland and to humanity,"
War disfigures the bond between nations, the pope said, leaving "an indelible mark" in soldiers and anyone who witnesses the atrocities of conflict. Members of the military and their families "require specific pastoral care, a solicitude that will make them feel the maternal closeness of the church."
This is our mission. And I look forward to ministering closely with all of you to see it realized.
Knowing very well my unworthiness, I place all my trust in the grace and provision of the Risen and Living Lord Jesus, and in the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And I sincerely commend myself, and the entire Ordinariate, to the persevering prayers of everyone here.
In all things may God be glorified! And as we say in the Companions of the Cross, “Accipimus Crucem. Deo Gratias” which means, “let us, together, embrace the Cross. Thanks be to God!” Amen!