Hugh Gilbert

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The Right Reverend
Hugh Gilbert
Bishop of Aberdeen
Province St Andrews and Edinburgh
Diocese Aberdeen
Appointed 4 June 2011
Installed 15 August 2011
Predecessor Peter Moran
Ordination 29 June 1982
by Mario Conti
Consecration 15 August 2011
by Keith O'Brien
Personal details
Birth name Edward Gilbert
Born (1952-03-15) 15 March 1952 (age 63)
Emsworth, Hampshire, UK
Nationality British
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey (1992 - 2011)
Alma mater King's College London

The Right Reverend Hugh Edward Gilbert OSB (born 15 March 1952) is the Bishop of Aberdeen. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI on 4 June 2011.[1] He had previously served as abbot of Pluscarden Abbey.[2] He was consecrated by Cardinal Keith O'Brien on 15 August 2011.[3]

Early life[edit]

On 15 March 1952, he was born Edward Gilbert in Emsworth to an Anglican family. He was received into the Catholic Church at age 18, on Christmas Eve of 1970. He was educated at the independent St Paul's School, London. He studied history at King's College London and graduate in 1974 with a first class honours degree in History.[2]

Religious life[edit]

Gilbert entered the monastery of Pluscarden in Moray, Scotland, taking the religious name Hugh, and was later sent to Fort Augustus Abbey on the shores of Loch Ness for studies and preparation for the priesthood. He made his solemn monastic profession in 1979 and was ordained priest on the Feast of SS Peter and Paul, 29 June 1982 by Mario Conti.[2]

At Pluscarden he became sub-prior in 1984, novice master in 1985, and prior in 1990. He was elected abbot of the monastery 29 October 1992 and received the abbatial blessing on 8 December 1992.[2] He was a member of the Council of the Union of Monastic Superiors from 1993 to 1997 and of the Abbot Visitor's Council since 1995. During his time as abbot the community grew to 27 monks.

When the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor reached seventy-five years of age, the prescribed retirement age for bishops, Dom Hugh Gilbert was mentioned as a possible successor. It was thought however that he declined the appointment.[4] Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham was appointed instead in 2009.

Hugh Gilbert will be expected to find a way of tackling secularism and boosting church attendance.[by whom?] The Catholic Church has suffered a fall in the size of its congregations in Scotland, in common with much of Europe and with other Christian denominations in Scotland.[citation needed] However, the Diocese of Aberdeen has seen an increase in its Catholic population in recent years with the arrival of workers from eastern Europe, particularly Poland and Lithuania.[citation needed]


In August 2012 Gilbert intervened in the Scottish same-sex marriage debate by arguing that if the Scottish Government truly believed in equality it would also make incest and polygamy legal: "If we really want equality, why does that equality not extend to nieces who genuinely, truly love their uncles?" He added: "The truth is that a government can pass any legislation it likes, it can legislate to say that everything with four legs is a table, even when it’s a dog and not a horse, but that won’t make it so." His comments met with criticism from campaigners for equal rights who called his comments offensive.[5][6]


  1. ^ "Rinuncia Del Vescovo Di Aberdeen (Scozia) E Nomina Del Successore" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 4 June 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Abbot of Pluscarden appointed Bishop of Aberdeen". Independent Catholic News (UK). 4 June 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Bishop Hugh (Edward) Gilbert, O.S.B.". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  4. ^ Wakefield, Mary (18 March 2008). "A holy man tipped to lead the nation’s Catholics". The Spectator (UK). Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Catholic Bishop: Government should make incest legal if it really believes in equality". Pink News (UK). 5 August 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2013. /
  6. ^ Reynolds, Rory (5 August 2012). "Same-sex marriage: Anger over bishop’s bigamy and incest jibe". The Scotsman (UK). Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Peter Moran
Bishop of Aberdeen