FOR SCOTLAND'S newest ­archbishop, you could say it is a question of the Catholic Church in Scotland getting back to basics.

Described by church insiders as "a world-class operator", ­Archbishop Leo Cushley - who last week succeeded Cardinal O'Brien as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh - worked closely with both Popes Benedict and Francis and was chosen in the hope his diplomatic service skillset would help the church move on from the O'Brien scandal.

Already he has been touted as the frontman for the church in Scotland, with his counterpart in the Glasgow Archdiocese, Philip Tartaglia, keeping a much lower than expected profile following his appointment last year.

Now Archbishop Cushley has signalled his ­intention to change the damaged church's approach, amid hypocrisy claims following its vocal ­opposition to same-sex marriage and subsequent revelations about the Cardinal, and to adopt the approach the Pontiff has taken in his six months in the Vatican.

After the turmoil surrounding Cardinal Keith O'Brien, it is ­glaringly apparent to Archbishop Cushley many of the church's traditional interests have been neglected - namely the needy.

In his first interview with The Herald, he said: "There is something else we can do more of, that we're very good at but that we've forgotten the importance of, and which Francis has drawn our attention to, and that is the poor and the weak in society.

"We've drawn the attention of society to that again and again. Even yesterday I had a meeting with the people who help run the Archdiocese and heard about our pastoral outreach work in this area and that area on justice and peace, on the environment and religious education in schools and hospital chaplaincy work.

"And I said, what about the poor, what are we doing for the poor? And there had been an office for this but I was told that its dormant at the moment and we're waiting for something to be done about it.

"It's not as if it was forgotten, but it was a way of people realising 'here is something we ought not to have let go of'. It was an office someone was no longer head of and I thought 'here we are, here's something Francis wants us to look into'.

"I'm very keen to personally find out very quickly what the Archdiocese does for outreach work to the down-and-outs, the unemployed, the drug addicts and other people at risk that traditionally we help but don't make a big song and dance about it.

"I want familiarise myself with it to see if it's as good as it can be and if we can do better than that if necessary and get ourselves to commit to that.

"Catholics in Scotland are very generous people but often think about this in terms of generosity with the missions. After Westminster and Liverpool, the next most generous diocese in Britain is Motherwell, and then several other Scottish diocese which are small beer compared with the English ones. Scottish Catholics are very generous pound for pound with the missions, but the missions are not here. That's why something like Mary's Meals is such a good thing."

Speaking about the church's recent scandal, Archbishop ­Cushley admits he would be powerless to prevent Cardinal O'Brien coming back to Scotland, claiming there was a possibility the disgraced former head of the church in Scotland could return.

While he said he was hopeful of piecing together the events that saw the cardinal admit sexual misconduct stretching back decades, he said: "That doesn't mean putting it up on billboards."

The former Vatican diplomat said in recent weeks that he believed it would "probably be better" for the Cardinal not to come back to Scotland.

But he told The Herald: "If he comes up to Scotland, what am I to do about that? Probably not a great deal. Someone said it would be a great shame if he couldn't come back and I was excluding him in some way. But it's not my role to tell him what to do. That job belongs to the Holy See."

An early promise is to open the books on clerical abuse accusations in the archdiocese and start a national investigation into mounting claims against the church. Archbishop Cushley has also pledged to re-open an office dedicated to charitable work with the poor and marginalised.

He described Catholics in ­Scotland as "a small minority in a country that is still learning to live with Catholicism after hundreds of years of a very different ­attitude towards it" but said there was an evident change on his return, with a greater sense of Christian churches coming together.

On his approach to the job at hand, he said: "Am I the first of the Francis generation? I suppose I am. I find myself saying again and again: 'well Francis has done this, I'd like to imitate that if I could'. And I do it naturally, not in a ­studied way. It seems the most natural thing in the world to take the Pope's lead.

"He's given me advice personally on what I ought to do and what my priorities ought to be. He's very easy to get to known and a very pleasant man to work with.

"The essential message doesn't change. But how we present that is going to change in style. And hopefully it will be a style that will help people to listen to the message, at least fairly and give it a chance.

"We are people of our ­generation. I was born in the 1960s, so I see the world through the perspective of a kid who grew up listening to The Beatles and The Stones and watching men landing on the moon. It's not as if I've come down from Mars."