Benedict XVI’s state visit begins in Scotland

The Holy Father arrived in Scotland today and was greeted by Her Majesty the Queen at the beginning of this state visit.

ScotlandFrom VIS:

Your Majesty,

Thank you for your gracious invitation to make an official visit [not "pastoral" visit] to the United Kingdom and for your warm words of greeting on behalf of the British people. In thanking Your Majesty, allow me to extend my own greetings to all the people of the United Kingdom and to hold out a hand of friendship to each one.

It is a great pleasure for me to start my journey by saluting the members of the Royal Family, thanking in particular His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh for his kind welcome to me at Edinburgh Airport. I express my gratitude to Your Majesty’s present and previous Governments and to all those who worked with them to make this occasion possible, including Lord Patten and former Secretary of State Murphy. I would also like to acknowledge with deep appreciation the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See, which has contributed greatly to strengthening the friendly relations existing between the Holy See and the United Kingdom.

As I begin my visit to the United Kingdom in Scotland’s historic capital city, I greet in a special way First Minister Salmond and the representatives of the Scottish Parliament. Just like the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies, may the Scottish Parliament grow to be an expression of the fine traditions and distinct culture of the Scots and strive to serve their best interests in a spirit of solidarity and concern for the common good.

The name of Holyroodhouse, Your Majesty’s official residence in Scotland, recalls the "Holy Cross" and points to [And I wonder if this isn’t going to be the theme Pope Benedict presses during the visit.] the deep Christian roots that are still present in every layer of British life. [The Holy Father’s pontificate is, in large part, about revitalizing Catholic identity, but also about recovering that which makes Europe Europe.] The monarchs of England and Scotland have been Christians from very early times and include outstanding saints like Edward the Confessor and Margaret of Scotland. As you know, many of them consciously exercised their sovereign duty in the light of the Gospel, and in this way shaped the nation for good at the deepest level. [The next thought is… lose that identity and society, at the deepest level, will suffer.] As a result, the Christian message has been an integral part of the language, thought and culture of the peoples of these islands for more than a thousand years. Your forefathers’ respect for truth and justice, for mercy and charity come to you from a faith that remains a mighty force for good in your kingdom, to the great benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike.

We find many examples of this force for good throughout Britain’s long history. Even in comparatively recent times, due to figures like William Wilberforce and David Livingstone, Britain intervened directly to stop the international slave trade. Inspired by faith, women like Florence Nightingale served the poor and the sick and set new standards in healthcare that were subsequently copied everywhere. John Henry Newman, whose beatification I will celebrate shortly, was one of many British Christians of his age whose goodness, eloquence and action were a credit to their countrymen and women. These, and many people like them, were inspired by a deep faith born and nurtured in these islands.  [Nice move to place Newman’s name along side those other names.]

Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives. [Again…] As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a "reductive vision of the person and his destiny" (Caritas in Veritate, 29).

Sixty-five years ago, Britain played an essential role in forging the post-war international consensus which favoured the  establishment of the United Nations and ushered in a hitherto unknown period of peace and prosperity in Europe. [Not to mention the Marshall Plan… the US’s Marshall Plan, that is.] In more recent years, the international community has followed closely events in Northern Ireland which have led to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and the devolution of powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Your Majesty’s Government and the Government of Ireland, together with the political, religious and civil leaders of Northern Ireland, have helped give birth to a peaceful resolution of the conflict there. I encourage everyone involved to continue to walk courageously together on the path marked out for them towards a just and lasting peace.

Looking abroad, the United Kingdom remains a key figure politically and economically on the international stage. Your Government and people are the shapers of ideas that still have an impact far beyond the British Isles. This places upon them a particular duty to act wisely for the common good. Similarly, because their opinions reach such a wide audience, the British media have a graver responsibility than most and a greater opportunity to promote the peace of nations, the integral development of peoples and the spread of authentic human rights. [with stress on the word "authentic".] May all Britons continue to live by the values of honesty, respect and fair-mindedness that have won them the esteem and admiration of many.

Today, the United Kingdom strives to be a modern and multicultural society. In this challenging enterprise, may it [Again…] always maintain its respect for those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate. Let it not obscure the Christian foundation that underpins its freedoms; and may that patrimony, which has always served the nation well, constantly inform the example your Government and people set before the two billion members of the Commonwealth and the great family of English-speaking nations throughout the world.

May God bless Your Majesty and all the people of your realm. Thank you.

Among other things he proposes, implicit in the Holy Father’s sermon is also an argument that even aggressive humanists should look to England’s Christian roots with a positive eye, if nothing else but for utilitarian reasons.  That is, be careful.  If you undermine what you have been given, you won’t be left with anything.

Keep watching and listening for a theme in the Holy Father’s speeches: the Christian roots of England and Scotland must be preserved and fostered for without Christianity, they would not be who they are.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Paul Jackson says:

    Even these beautiful words are under attack on secular news sites. I love the way the Pope dig’s deeper on every level. Holyroodhouse, priceless :-)

  2. pfreddys says:

    Let us PRAY, PRAY, PRAY for the health of this wonderful Pope. Has anyone seen the itinerary for his visit….I’m more than 30 years younger than him and I would find it exhausting.

  3. JaneC says:

    After arriving at the Archbishop’s house, the Holy Father went out and greeted school children in the street–and from the looks on the faces of his entourage, this was unplanned. I think it was wonderful.

  4. catoholic says:

    Praise God for our Holy Father! His words are so uplifting and resonant with deep truths, even on the most formal of occasions.

    May Our Lord watch over him during this visit, and may Mary wrap him in the protective mantle of her love!

  5. Sedgwick says:

    The Holy Father lays down an argument that even aggressive humanists should look to England’s Christian roots with a positive eye, if nothing else but for utilitarian reasons.

    Christianity is not a utilitarian religion (well, certainly not Catholicism); if this is the Pope’s argument, it is pathetically weak. Perhaps he is hoping to be disarming, having landed well behind enemy lines. But I think he is wasting his time extending the hand of friendship to those perverted barbarian slobs who control the UK public square, and who have covered him with spittle.

    I hope his humility will overcome all in the end. Do barbarians recognize humility when they see it?

  6. irishgirl says:

    Excellent words from the Holy Father!

    I echo catoholic’s words-may Our Lord watch over him, and Our Lady wrap him in her mantle!

  7. david s says:

    Readers may be interested to know that Holyroodhouse (the Scots pronounce it “Hollyroodhouse,” I think), was an Augustinian Abbey in the Middle Ages and long associated with the Scottish royal family, including Mary, Queen of Scots. The ruins of the abbey church are next to the current royal palace.

    With prayers for the Holy Father as he makes his journey.

  8. jflare says:

    Granted, Catholicism isn’t exclusively a utilitarian faith. However, I don’t think Fr Z meant it quite that way. I think it’s almost as much a warning, however veiled, as a request for friendship. Secularist and humanist voices have struggled for some time to drive faith–especially Catholic and Christian faith–out of the public square, to be supplanted by secularism, humanism, progressivism, however you wish to call it. (Paganism might be almost as useful actually.)

    Those who loathe Christian faith may indeed loathe the Pope in particular because his presence their highlights all they have not succeeded in doing. They haven’t brought about the world of peace, love, and tolerance that they proclaim. Instead, though they’ll stubbornly deny it, they’ve brought about all the more hate, prejudice, intolerance, anger, and violence.

    I doubt secular Europe will listen willingly–they don’t here in the US–but Benedict threw them a terrific challenge to prove themselves without actually threatening them with societal collapse.

  9. gsk says:

    Good grief, Sedgwick, there’s nothing wrong with pointing out the obvious — that Christianity well-lived creates a balanced order. The perverted barbarian slobs you refer to have left God far behind, which makes them, well, perverted. Rather than a weak argument, it’s simply an acknowledgement of the status quo. And still God loves them, and so does Benedict — they may surprise us yet…

  10. Christianity is not a utilitarian religion (well, certainly not Catholicism); if this is the Pope’s argument, it is pathetically weak.

    The Church has always defended authentic human rights by appealing to natural law and deploying nonsectarian arguments. In this way anyone can grasp and appreciate her positions. Pick up any encyclical or address on these topics.

  11. RichardT says:

    The BBC is criticising this speech:

    “A speech in which the Pope appeared to associate atheism with the Nazis has prompted criticism from humanist organisations.”

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Uh, the BBC will always and has always for at least forty years, been unfair to Catholicism, except for a few “bone” articles thrown to the crowd now and then. The philosophy of the Beeb has been pro-homosexual, pro-abortion, pro-free sex for years and years. If the journalists are addressing these subjects, and any criticisms against the prevailing laissez faire attitude towards secularism and even hedonism, why are we surprised? The Pope physically represents everything they hate.

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