POPE Francis has appointed a 50-year-old parish priest from one of Scotland's most socially deprived areas as the latest Catholic bishop in Scotland.

Monsignor Brian McGee becomes the new Bishop of the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles which has been vacant for over 18 months.

He is the latest appointment to the Catholic hierarchy born in the 1960s and marks a generational change within the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, its main decision-making body in the country.

One senior church figure said the Bishops' Confeence would "benefit from his fresh perspective and thoughtful discernment".

Mgr. McGee is currently parish priest of Holy Family Parish in Port Glasgow, as well as Vicar General of the Diocese of Paisley, which sees him him charged with overseeing the diocesan administration.

Bishop-Elect McGee said: “It was very humbling, and indeed frightening, to be informed by the Papal Nuncio that Pope Francis had nominated me to be the new bishop of the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles. However, after reflection and prayer I now face this mission with quiet but definite confidence.

“I am excited about coming to the diocese. It has an ancient and proud heritage whose roots stretch back almost one and a half thousand years preceding even its spiritual father, Saint Columba.

“I cannot deny that it is a wrench for me to leave the Diocese of Paisley. This was where I wanted to minister from my youth and I have always been very happy there.

"I grew up in Greenock daily enjoying beautiful views of the Cowal Peninsula, Bute and Arran and I still savour them from my parish in Port Glasgow today. I have holidayed and trekked throughout the diocesan boundaries from my earliest childhood to the present day. I have made several pilgrimages to Iona. I already look forward to living within what will be my new diocese and I sure that I will naturally come to love its people.”

Born in Greenock in 1965 tp parents from Donegal and Belfast, Mgr McGee attended school in the Inverclyde town before attending seminary at St Patrick’s College in Thurles, County Tipperary.

He was ordained priest for the Diocese of Paisley in 1989, also spending a decade as parish priest in Clarkston, East Renfrewshire, as well as two years as spiritual director of Scotland's national seminary.

Bishop John Keenan of Paisley said: “Many congratulations to Bishop Elect Brian on his appointment by Pope Francis to the See of Argyll and the Isles. I am not at all surprised that he has been chosen for this important office.

"He is loved and respected dearly by his own parishioners in Holy Family, Port Glasgow, who will miss him, and his elevation leaves big shoes to fill in the diocese of Paisley.

“I can assure the clergy and people of Argyll and the Isles that they are getting a pastor who will give his all to serving them with justice and who will lead them with energy and vision. He will be a valued member of the Bishop’s Conference which will benefit from his fresh perspective and thoughtful discernment.”