Benedict XVI Confirms Trip to Scotland

Stresses Need to Understand Vocation of Laity

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 5, 2010 ( Confirming his upcoming visit to Scotland, expected in September, Benedict XVI is urging prelates to prepare Catholics well in their specific vocations as clergy and laity.

«Later this year, I shall have the joy of being present with you and the Catholics of Scotland on your native soil,» the Pope stated today. He affirmed this in an audience with the bishops from that country who are in Rome for their five-yearly visit.

«As you prepare for the apostolic visit,» he said, «encourage your people to pray that it will be a time of grace for the whole Catholic community.»

The Pontiff continued: «Take the opportunity to deepen their faith and to rekindle their commitment to bear witness to the Gospel.

«Like the monks from Iona who spread the Christian message throughout the length and breadth of Scotland, let them be beacons of faith and holiness for the Scottish people today.»

He encouraged the prelates to form their priests and seminarians well, so that they will be «well equipped humanly, academically and spiritually for the task of ministry in the 21st century.»

The Holy Father underlined the need to understand the «specific vocation of the laity.»


He explained: «Sometimes a tendency to confuse lay apostolate with lay ministry has led to an inward-looking concept of their ecclesial role.

«Yet the Second Vatican Council’s vision is that wherever the lay faithful live out their baptismal vocation — in the family, at home, at work — they are actively participating in the Church’s mission to sanctify the world.»

«A renewed focus on lay apostolate will help to clarify the roles of clergy and laity and so give strong impetus to the task of evangelizing society,» Benedict XVI pointed out.

He affirmed that «a strong Catholic presence in the media, local and national politics, the judiciary, the professions and the universities can only serve to enrich Scotland’s national life, as people of faith bear witness to the truth, especially when that truth is called into question.»

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, archbishop of St. Andrew’s and Edinburgh, and president of the Scottish bishops’ conference, led the group of 11 prelates and addressed the Pope on their behalf.

The Pontiff gave each bishop a pectoral cross as a personal gift, the conference reported.

It noted Cardinal O’Brien’s response to the papal address: «Together with my brother bishops, I am filled with joy at the news that the Holy Father will visit Scotland, since he has confirmed his intention to visit us we in turn will now begin our preparations for his visit in earnest.»

Scotland’s total population of 5 million is around 65% Christian. Some 17% of the citizens are Catholics.

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