GLASGOW, Scotland, SEPT. 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is urging the Scottish faithful to be a clear voice defending the right to live in a society that promotes the welfare of its citizens, not a “jungle” of arbitrary freedoms.
The Pope said this today when he celebrated an open-air Mass at Bellahouston Park, about three miles from the center of Glasgow.
It is the same park where Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass during his 1982 visit to Scotland.
The German Pontiff arrived today in Scotland, beginning a four-day trip to the United Kingdom that will include an address to representatives of British society, and the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman.
In his homily at this evening’s Mass, the Holy Father touched on themes ranging from progress in ecumenism, to the evangelization of culture, to the need to pray for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
Brothers and sisters
Regarding the role of religion in society, Benedict XVI emphasized its essential contribution to freedom and public good.
“The evangelization of culture is all the more important in our times, when a ‘dictatorship of relativism’ threatens to obscure the unchanging truth about man’s nature, his destiny and his ultimate good,” he observed. “There are some who now seek to exclude religious belief from public discourse, to privatize it or even to paint it as a threat to equality and liberty. Yet religion is in fact a guarantee of authentic liberty and respect, leading us to look upon every person as a brother or sister.”
The Bishop of Rome hence made an appeal to the laity to follow their baptismal call and mission and be not only “examples of faith in public,” but also promoters of “faith’s wisdom and vision in the public forum.”
“Society today,” he said, “needs clear voices which propose our right to live, not in a jungle of self-destructive and arbitrary freedoms, but in a society which works for the true welfare of its citizens and offers them guidance and protection in the face of their weakness and fragility. Do not be afraid to take up this service to your brothers and sisters, and to the future of your beloved nation.”
The Pope pointed to a saint of Scotland, St. Ninian, whose feast is providentially celebrated today. The saint was “unafraid to be a lone voice,” the Holy Father said. “In the footsteps of the disciples whom Our Lord sent forth before him, Ninian was one of the very first Catholic missionaries to bring his fellow Britons the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Ninian was followed by a line of other saints, who have inspired centuries of faithful to hand down the faith, the Pontiff reflected.
“Strive to be worthy of this great tradition!” he urged the Scots. “Let the exhortation of St. Paul in the first reading be your constant inspiration: ‘Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering and persevere in prayer.'”
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