At 12 noon today in Rome (11am GMT) it was announced, that Pope Benedict XVI had nominated Abbot Hugh Gilbert as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Aberdeen.
He will succeed Bishop Peter Moran who has been Bishop since 2003. Reacting to his appointment, Abbot Hugh who is currently Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey near Elgin said: “The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, has nominated me to succeed Bishop Peter Moran as Bishop of Aberdeen. As a Catholic Christian and Benedictine monk, I accept this as the call of Christ, and, trusting in the help of God and the saints, intend to give myself wholeheartedly, like my predecessors, to the lay people, religious, priests and deacons of this beautiful diocese.”
The Bishop-elect added: “I have much to learn, and it will not be easy to leave my monastery after 37 years. But I do so knowing that I am not going among strangers. I commend myself to the kind hearts and prayers of all whom I am called to serve. Together in Christ may we shine with the light of his Resurrection!”
Responding to the news Bishop Peter Moran said: “After my nine years at the helm of Aberdeen Diocese, seven of them as Bishop, I am happy that the Holy Father has named Abbot Hugh Gilbert to take over as my successor. He is, of course, well known in the diocese to clergy and laity alike. I welcome him most warmly.”
“During his nineteen years as Abbot, Pluscarden Abbey has continued to be the serene spiritual heart of this diocese. I am confident that his spiritual leadership as bishop will bring many graces to the members of the diocese, and to the wider community, in the years to come.”
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said: “I am delighted to welcome Abbot Hugh Gilbert, Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey, as the new Bishop of Aberdeen - and, consequently, as a member of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland. The name and the reputation of Abbot Hugh are well known outside the confines of his monastery. His spirituality and his writings, have inspired many throughout Scotland and indeed in other parts of the world. May God indeed bless him at this present time, as we say a very sincere thanks to his immediate predecessor, Bishop Peter Moran, who has fulfilled his apostolate as Bishop of Aberdeen and a member of our Bishops' Conference, in an exemplary manner.”
Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow said; "As native of Aberdeen diocese, where I spent 25 happy years as Bishop, I am delighted at the appointment of my second successor. The Abbot is well known to me. I had the joy of ordaining him priest almost 30 years ago and later of blessing him as Abbot of Pluscarden. If it can be said that Abbot Hugh's appointment is a loss to the Abbey, there is great gain for the diocese of Aberdeen and the wider Catholic community of Scotland in his being named Bishop. The news will be particularly welcomed in Aberdeen diocese, where Pluscarden has warm links with every part of the territory and is recognised as a thriving centre of spirituality, monastic practice and culture in the north of Scotland. Abbot Hugh has played a key role in the success story that is Pluscarden over the last few decades, a period which has seen it expand its influence far and wide.”
"I also wish to pay warm tribute to my friend and colleague Bishop Peter Moran whose resignation on age and health grounds has now been accepted. Bishop Peter's wise and warm leadership mean that Abbot Hugh will inherit a diocese in fine heart.
Abbot Hugh Gilbert, O. S. B. leads a community of Benedictine monks at Pluscarden Abbey a mediaeval monastery outside Elgin in Morayshire. See: www.pluscardenabbey.org
Bishop-Elect Hugh Gilbert. was born Edward Gilbert in Emsworth, Hampshire on 15 March 1952. He was baptised in the Church of England. He became a Roman Catholic at the age of 18. He was educated at St Paul’s School, London, and at King’s College, University of London, where he gained a 1st class degree in History.
He entered the Benedictine monastery of Pluscarden Abbey in 1974, receiving the name Hugh. He made his final profession on 10 March 1979. He did his theological studies at the former abbey of Fort Augustus, on the shores of Loch Ness. He was ordained a priest by Archbishop Mario Conti, Archbishop of Glasgow (and previously Bishop of Aberdeen) on 29 June 1982. He became Novice Master in 1985, and Prior of the monastery in 1990. He was elected Abbot in 1992.
He has given retreats to monastic communities, male and female, in England, Ireland, France and the USA, as well as to priests and lay groups. He has assisted in the conduct of monastic Visitations in England, Ireland and Australia, and taken part in General Chapters and Congresses of Abbots in Italy. He has published several articles on a variety of topics, and two books: Unfolding the Mystery (Gracewing, 2007), a collection of homilies and conferences on the liturgical year, and Living the Mystery (Gracewing, 2008), reflections on aspects of the Christian life.
The Episcopal Ordination will take place in St Mary's Cathedral, Aberdeen on Monday 15 August 2011, the Feast of the Assumption and the Patronal Feast of the Cathedral. The Principal Consecrator of the new Bishop will be Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, with the Co-Consecrators being Archbishop Mario Conti, Archbishop of Glasgow and previous Bishop of Aberdeen, along with Bishop Peter Moran, the immediate predecessor of the new Bishop.
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