Tributes to a “gentle, caring and warm-hearted pastor” greeted the news that the Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, has died suddenly at home in the city.
Archbishop Tartaglia had tested positive for Covid-19 shortly after Christmas and was self-isolating, but it is not yet known whether the virus was implicated in his death.
He had suffered from a heart condition in recent years. He died on the Feast of St Kentigern, or Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow.
The Scottish bishops said in a statement that the Archbishop’s passing was an “immeasurable” loss, not just to his family, clergy and the people of Glasgow, but to the entire Church in Scotland.
The bishops said that Archbishop Tartaglia’s contribution to the work of the Conference over the past 16 years, since his consecration of Bishop of Paisley in 2005, was significant and that they will “miss his wisdom, wit and robust Catholic spirit very much”. In commending his soul into the hands of God, the bishops described the archbishop as “a gentle, caring and warm-hearted pastor who combined compassion with a piercing intellect”.
Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols said: “I have learned with great sadness of the sudden death of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia. All of Scotland will be saddened and shocked by his death, sentiments shared throughout England and Wales, too.
“He, and his family, are much in our prayers. I have often enjoyed the warm hospitality of Archbishop Tartaglia and admired his pastoral sense and sharp mind. His leadership will be greatly missed.”
The Bishop of Paisley, John Keenan, described Archbishop Tartaglia, as a “real father” and a “real brother” and that his passing would “leave a gap”.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that she had “always valued” her interactions with Archbishop Tartaglia and that he would be greatly missed.
The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross MSP, said that the Archbishop’s death would be “keenly felt within the Catholic Church and across the wider community”.
The Archbishop was a keen supporter of Celtic Football Club. The club offered condolences to his family and to the Catholic community.
Archbishop Tartaglia succeeded Archbishop Mario Conti in the Glasgow Archdiocese in 2012, after which he also served as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh following the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien.
Born in Glasgow on January 11 1951, he died just two days after his 70 th birthday.
After secondary schooling in Glasgow, he attended the national junior seminary at Langbank on the Clyde, before studying at St Mary’s College, Blairs, Aberdeen and completing his studies at the Pontifical Scots College and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
He was ordained in June 1975 and served as assistant and then parish priest at Our Lady Of Lourdes, Cardonald, St Patrick’s in Dumbarton and St Mary’s Duntocher.
He became a doctor of Sacred Theology with a dissertation on the Council of Trent and its teachings on the Eucharist, and was subsequently appointed lecturer and then director of studies at St Peter’s College in Glasgow, going on to serve as vice-rector and rector until 2004 when he returned to Rome to serve as rector of the Pontifical Scots College.
Unafraid of controversy, he stood up against the Family Law Act in 1996, saying that the Church’s face was set forever against civil partnerships and same-sex marriages and objecting to the easing of divorce.
He made headlines in 2012 when he made comments at a conference in Oxford which seemed to imply that gay lifestyle was inherently unhealthy. Throughout his career, his personal mission echoed that of the city itself. In the words of St Kentigern, let Glasgow flourish “by the preaching of His word and the praising of His name”.