I am an English Catholic, a supporter of the benefits of a United Kingdom, but deeply respectful of the hopes and aspirations of my fellow citizens in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who crave for independence.
I have been drawn recently to the Queen’s visit to Ireland in 2011 and how that visit sought to draw a line under the hurt caused by passed centuries of not treating our neighbours as our freinds.
My catholicism, held strongly in my consciousness, originates in my Irish ancestry, but I am English, I am a unionist, I am gay.
I have been drawn this week to the tragic early death of the Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia at the age of 70. It has been a shock for the cathoilic commnity in Scotland as his death had not been anticpated by ill health or age.
I have been drawn to his funeral rites, the words of his brother Fr Gerard Tartaglia at the vigil Mass, expressing his disbelief that his brother had died, and at the words of Bishop Hugh Gilbert at the funeral Mass in which he compared the loss of the archbishop to the uprooting of a strong and solid tree in a storm.
This uprooting of strength, this uprooting of goodness causes pain and as with an oak felled in a storm, the roots once torn up from the earth cannot be replanted, but in the shadow of the felled branches, the earth stirs with saplings and new growth which lie in the fertile ground of the previous incumbent of that space.
I have struggled to keep my roots in the ground, they have been at risk in recent years of tearing themselves up with the vain hope of being replanted into another space.
I have learned that whatever I have been, whatever I am, whatever I aspire to be in the future is already to be found in the roots from which my life is sprung.
The catholic roots within me from beautiful Ireland, the unionist roots within me from remarkable England, the gay roots within me from the biological genes I carry are intertwined in the solid ground under my feet, and it is from there that the foliage grows and makes me into the complex being that I have become.