POPE Francis has agreed to the appointment of a new bishop to help run Scotland's largest Catholic diocese following the health scare to Archbishop Philip Tartaglia.

The new auxiliary bishop will soon be taking on many of the duties of running the Glasgow Archdiocese after the Pontiff consented to the move.

Archbishop Tartaglia turns 65 in January and recently suffered a heart attack while in Salamanca, Spain.

The country's most prominent cleric broke the news to his clergy on Wednesday at an anniversary dinner to celebrate 40 years in the priesthood.

Monsignor Paul Conroy, Glasgow's vicar general, his brother Canon Gerry Conroy and Archdiocese chancellor Monsignor Paul Murray have all been tipped as a likely candidates.

It comes as Archbishop Tartaglia announces that the first phase in overhauling the number of parishes within the Archdiocese has been completed, with the church looking to abandon its structure of deaneries.

Instead, the Archbishop has said parishes will be run as clusters to deal with the shortage of clerics whilst "finding suitable priests from wherever".

In a letter to priests, published in local Catholic journal Flourish, he has said the restructuring, which will inevitably lead to parish closures and mergers, had "not been simple or easy", adding: "These are undoubtedly testing times for the church."

Nominations for the new bishop first need to be submitted to Archbishop Tartaglia by mid-August, with names then sent to the Papal Nuncio in London by the end of the summer.

This will then become a shortlist of three, with the Pope announcing the new auxilliary bishop, the first in Glasgow for near a quarter of a century, by next Easter.

Archbishop Tartaglia told local his priests: "I am pleased to advise you that Pope Francis has consented to my request for the nomination of an auxilliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Glasgow to assist me in the pastoral care and governance of the diocese and with the celebration of the sacrament of Confirmation for our young people."

Meanwhile, Scotland's bishops have claimed the nation is now a 'mission country' which invites the help of clergy and religious from the developing world.

Bishop William Nolan of Galloway told his diocese that priests from an Indian missionary order would soon be working in the diocese.

Bishop Nolan said the priests coming from India to Galloway were "not to plug gaps or to maintain the current system", adding: "They are a missionary order and they are coming because they see Scotland as mission territory. "They see a country where the faith is tired and the faithful lack the enthusiastic joy of the first Christians, an enthusiasm and joy that we see in the church in many Third World countries."

Bishop Stephen Robson of Dunkeld, has also told the Scottish Catholic Observer, that he had already arranged for an order of Indian nuns to come to Dundee to run a care home, adding that people had to accept Scotland is "now a mission country".

Bishop Robson added that while the Scottish Church has historically been helped by clergy and religious orders from Ireland is was now increasingly looking to the developing world for support.

The Glasgow Archdiocese told the Catholic Observer that it was "very likely that we will continue to see priests from abroad working here in the years to come", while a spokesman for Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh said it was important to remember "the universal Church by its very nature is missionary".