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Leo William Cushley (born 18 June 1961) is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland. He previously served as head of the English language section of the Vatican Secretariat of State.[2]

Leo Cushley

Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
ArchdioceseSt Andrews and Edinburgh
ProvinceSt Andrews and Edinburgh
Appointed24 July 2013
Installed21 September 2013
PredecessorKeith O'Brien
Ordination7 July 1985
by Joseph Devine
Consecration21 September 2013
by James Harvey, Philip Tartaglia, Antonio Mennini
Personal details
Birth nameLeo William Cushley
Born (1961-06-18) 18 June 1961 (age 58)
Airdrie,[1] Scotland
DenominationRoman Catholic
ParentsEileen and Bill Cushley
Coat of armsLeo Cushley's coat of arms
Ordination history of
Leo Cushley
Priestly ordination
Ordained byJoseph Devine
Date7 July 1985
PlaceSt John the Baptist, Uddingston
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorJames Harvey
Co-consecratorsPhilip Tartaglia,
Antonio Mennini
Date21 September 2013
PlaceSt Mary's Cathedral
Styles of
Leo Cushley
Coat of arms of Leo William Cushley.svg
Reference styleThe Most Reverend
Spoken styleYour Grace
Religious styleArchbishop


Early lifeEdit

Leo Cushley was born on 18 June 1961[3] in Wester Moffat Hospital, Airdrie, North Lanarkshire,[4] the first child of Bill and Eileen Cushley; he has a younger brother, Kenneth, and a younger sister, Carey.[5]

He attended All Saints' Primary School, Coatdyke (1966–1967), before finishing his primary education at St John the Baptist's Primary School, Uddingston (1967–1973). He went on to attend Holy Cross High School, Hamilton (1973–1975), and St Mary's College, Blairs, Aberdeen (1975–1979).

Formation, studies and priesthoodEdit

Cushley first began studying for the priesthood at St Mary's College, Blairs, Aberdeen. From 1980 to 1985 he studied philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Motherwell on 7 July 1985 at the Church of St John the Baptist, Uddingston, by Bishop Joseph Devine. From 1979 to 1987 he attended Pontifical Scots College, Rome. He continued his studies in Rome being granted a Licence in Sacred Liturgy (SLL) at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in 1987.[6]

He returned to the Diocese of Motherwell that year as an assistant priest at the Cathedral Church of Our Lady of Good Aid, where he remained until he was appointed curate at St Serf's Parish, Airdrie and concurrently chaplain to St Margaret's High School in 1988. He remained there until 1992 when he was sent to St Aidan's Parish, Wishaw as well as serving as chaplain to St Aidan's High School, Wishaw and chaplain to Our Lady's High School, Motherwell.[6]

Diplomatic careerEdit

In 1994 Cushley was summoned to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, studying diplomacy at the same time as studying for a doctorate in canon law (JCD) at the Pontifical Gregorian University, which he earned in 1997. He formally entered the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See on 1 July 1997.[6] Cushley has served in the nunciatures of Egypt, Burundi, Portugal and the United Nations in New York and South Africa.[6]

From 2009 until 2013, Cushley was head of the English-language section of the Vatican Secretariat of State.[3] In that capacity, he was responsible for accompanying the pope during all his visits to English speaking countries, such as the visits by Benedict XVI to Malta, Cyprus and the United Kingdom in 2010.[7] In 2012, he took on an additional role in the Vatican when he was appointed to the ceremonial position of "prelate of the anticamera", with duties that include assisting when the pope receives visits from prominent dignitaries such as heads of state.[3]

Episcopal appointmentEdit

On 24 July 2013 Cushley was appointed as the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, less than a year after Cardinal O'Brien resigned over sexual misconduct.[8] On appointment, Cushley stated:

Whatever happens though, it is my sincere hope and my intention to do whatever I have to do, always in truth, but also with charity, with a view to the reconciliation and the healing of the Catholics in Edinburgh, who I am sure have been upset and dismayed by these events.[9][10]

Cushley was consecrated and installed on 21 September,[11] the Feast of Saint Matthew, where the principal consecrators were Cardinal James Michael Harvey of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls; the Papal Nuncio, Antonio Mennini; and Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow.

Cushley's assistant responded to one victim of child sex abuse with, "While the archbishop sympathises with your situation, he regrets that he is unable to assist you."[12]

Under guidance from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cushley banned theologian Tina Beattie from lecturing to a lay Catholic group, the Newman Society, saying that "Beattie was known frequently to have called into question the church’s teaching".[13]

In Lent 2015, Cushley outlined his vision for the future of the Archdiocese in a Pastoral Letter entitled "We Have Found the Messiah". The document's stated aim was to "respond to the mission entrusted to him [Cushley] by Pope Francis: to bring the joy of the Gospel to contemporary society."

Following the publication of the letter, Cushley embarked upon 32 public meetings across the Archdiocese to discuss his ideas, which include the possibility of creating larger parish units through either mergers or closures.[14]

Cushley planned to restart a dormant office dealing with poor and marginalised people. He noted that Francis wants more done for poor people. Cushley wanted to find out fast what the archdiocese does for destitute people, unemployed people, drug addicts and others who are traditionally helped. Cushley wanted to see if improvements were possible.[15]

In February 2015 Cushley came under attack in an op-ed article published in the Observer newspaper which noted that the Catholic Church in Scotland had not corporately joined Churches' Mutual Credit Union, a new credit union co-founded by other Scottish Christian denominations. It also called upon Cushley to sell his official residence, St Benet’s, to provide funds for poor people.[16]

Keith O'BrienEdit

Keith O'Brien stood down as archbishop after three priests and a former priest accused him of predatory and unwelcome sexual contact in the 1980s.[8] In September 2013 "Cushley...suggested that O’Brien will not be permitted to return to Scotland and is likely to spend his remaining years in exile."[17] according to The Scotsman. By contrast the BBC claimed "Cushley conceded it was "not impossible" that the cardinal would one day return. But he made it clear he did not believe that possibility was likely or desirable."[8] Cushley also said he did not believe an independent investigation into O'Brien was necessary.[8]

Talking about the situation with O'Brien, Cushley denied that the church was at its lowest ebb though the church and had taken a battering.[9] Cushley said that the people of the Archdiocese wished to leave the matter behind.[18] He also said, "Cardinal O’Brien’s behaviour distressed many, demoralised faithful Catholics and made the church less credible to those who are not Catholic." but called for forgiveness.[19]


  1. ^ Dunn, Ian. "Pope names Vatican diplomat as new Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh". Scottish Catholic Observer. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  2. ^ "Pope names Vatican official as successor to Cardinal Keith O'Brien". Catholic Herald. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Glatz, Carol. "Pope names Vatican diplomat to lead scandal-struck Scottish archdiocese". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  4. ^ "Other Pontifical Acts". Vatican Information Service. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Monsignor Leo Cushley named as Cardinal Keith O'Brien's successor". The Herald. Glasgow. 24 July 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d "NOMINA DELL'ARCIVESCOVO METROPOLITA DI SAINT ANDREWS AND EDINBURGH (SCOZIA)". RINUNCE E NOMINE (in Italian). Vatican. 24 July 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Cardinal O'Brien's replacement named as Monsignor Leo Cushley". BBC News. 24 July 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d Monsignor Leo Cushley says Cardinal Keith O'Brien should not return to Scotland
  9. ^ a b Chris Marshall; Stephen McGinty (24 July 2013). "New Archbishop Cushley promises 'reconcilliation'". The Scotsman. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  10. ^ "Pope names Vatican official as successor to Cardinal Keith O'Brien". Catholic Herald. 24 July 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  11. ^ Monsignor Leo Cushley installed as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh
  12. ^ Scottish bishops' secret sex abuse file handed over to police
  13. ^ Catholic theologian banned from giving talk over opposition to church teaching
  14. ^ Archbishop urges faithful to resist pessimism ahead of parish closures
  15. ^ Archbishop vows helping the needy will be his priority
  16. ^ Why has the Catholic church yet to play any part in the credit union established by the Church of Scotland?
  17. ^ Leo Cushley: O’Brien will not return to Scotland
  18. ^ O'Brien successor in talks with Pope over scandal-hit diocese
  19. ^ Pope Francis accepts Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien's resignation
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Keith O'Brien
Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh