Scotland’s First Minister Holds Historical Summit with Faith Leaders

|TOP|The First Minister of Scotland has met Monday with Scotland’s faith leaders in Edinburgh during a historic summit to bring faith communities closer together and promote justice.

The summit brought together First Minister Jack McConnell with the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Alan McDonald, as well as imams, Buddhist monks and rabbis.

Cardinal O'Brien said: "Our gatherings as leaders of different faiths are wonderful opportunities of being together, and sharing together."

Imam Habib Rahman, of Glasgow Central Mosque, added: "The need for listening to one another has never been greater."

At the meeting, Mr McConnell gave his support to the calls for St Andrew’s Day to be a public holiday celebrated by all faiths in Scotland, stressing that it should become a truly multi-cultural event, reports The Scottish Herald.|QUOTE|

Against the backdrop of the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Monday, the religious leaders and the First Minister discussed ways for the religious leaders to work together with the Scottish Executive on promoting unity among the people of Scotland.

"This day has made all of us stop and remember the tragic events of September 11 in New York," said Mr McConnell.

"Clearly then and now there is a need not just to bring together communities in Scotland and promote understanding and tolerance, but more importantly to celebrate diversity and understanding.

|AD|"I want to ensure that each year in Scotland we celebrate St Andrew's Day as one Scotland, many cultures, all coming together to celebrate all that is good about Scotland."

The First Minister’s comments were welcomed by Cardinal O’Brien who said: "I was delighted to be with the First Minister this morning at the meeting of interfaith leaders in Edinburgh and very pleased to hear of his decision to support the campaign for a public holiday on St. Andrew's Day. I have long supported those who have campaigned for such a move and believe it finally gives our Patron saint the national recognition he deserves."

Cardinal O’Brien added, “I hope this move will encourage more Scots, especially a younger generation to learn more about our Patron saint and the Christian heritage and history which forged our nation."

Prior to the hour-long meeting in the Jewish Community Centre in Edinburgh, Mr McConnell said: "It is important that all communities and faiths stand together against terrorism, and promote tolerance, understanding and celebration of diversity and freedom in these difficult times."