Scotland’s Catholic bishops mourn death of Archbishop Mario Conti, who has died at the age of 88

The Emeritus Archbishop of Glasgow, Archbishop Mario Conti, has died at the age of 88.

The Catholic Church’s Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said Archbishop Conti died peacefully on Tuesday after a short illness at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

He succeeded Cardinal Thomas Winning as Archbishop of Glasgow in 2002 and retired 10 years later.

Born in Elgin, he was a priest for 64 years and a bishop for 45.

He was one of the last surviving bishops in the world to have been appointed by Pope Paul VI.

One of his proudest moments came when he welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to Britain at the first public Mass of the German Pope’s state visit in 2010 at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow.

The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Bishop of Aberdeen Hugh Gilbert, said in a statement that Archbishop Conti’s presence “has been a constant for so long, it is difficult to remember a time when he wasn’t an active or retired member of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland”.

He added: “As the current Bishop of Aberdeen I have many fond memories of him during his 25 years as Bishop of Aberdeen. Although he became Archbishop of Glasgow in 2002 his ties to the North East of Scotland remained strong.

“His interest in and knowledge of Scotland’s Catholic history was well known and his commitment to preserving the cultural heritage of the church was unwavering.

“In his retirement, he was a source of great wisdom and pastoral support to his successors both in Glasgow and Aberdeen.

“His work in ecumenism and interfaith matters as well as his affection for the Italian community in Scotland were among his defining characteristics.”

Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “We are very saddened to learn about the death of Archbishop Mario Conti and extend our deepest sympathy, thoughts and prayers to his family, friends and members of the Catholic Church, our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

He added: “Archbishop Conti made an outstanding contribution to ecumenism within Scotland and internationally and we recall this with gratitude.”