Pope Urges UK to Global Leadership for Common Good

Begins State Visit in Scotland

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EDINBURGH, Scotland, SEPT. 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Today Benedict XVI began his four-day state visit to the United Kingdom. In a meeting with state leaders, he affirmed Britain’s role of leadership throughout history and underlined its Christian roots.

The Pope arrived this morning at the Edinburgh Airport, where he was greeted by Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh; Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, apostolic nuncio in Great Britain; Alex Salmond, first minister of Scotland, and others.

This is the first official state visit by a Pope to the United Kingdom, initiated by an invitation of Queen Elizabeth II to Benedict XVI. The last Papal visit took place in 1982, when John Paul II traveled to Britain.

A welcoming ceremony for Benedict XVI, which was attended by Queen Elizabeth II, was held at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Pontiff also met privately with the queen.

Afterwards, in the palace park, the Holy Father delivered an address to political, civil, and church leaders of Scotland, in which he underlined the «deep Christian roots that are still present in every layer of British life.»

«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,» Benedict XVI said.<br>
He continued, «We find many examples of this force for good throughout Britain’s long history.»

«Due to figures like William Wilberforce and David Livingstone, Britain intervened directly to stop the international slave trade,» the Pope pointed out.

«Inspired by faith, women like Florence Nightingale served the poor and the sick and set new standards in healthcare that were subsequently copied everywhere,» he added.

The Pontiff highlighted «John Henry Newman, whose beatification I will celebrate shortly,» as «one of many British Christians of his age whose goodness, eloquence and action were a credit to their countrymen and women.»

Fighting tyranny

He continued: «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.»

The Holy Father recalled Britain’s «essential role in forging the post-war international consensus which favored the establishment of the United Nations and ushered in a hitherto unknown period of peace and prosperity in Europe.»

He also lauded the «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,» thereby promoting «a peaceful resolution of the conflict there.»

«Looking abroad, the United Kingdom remains a key figure politically and economically on the international stage,» Benedict XVI stated. «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.»

He urged the authorities to «not obscure the Christian foundation that underpins its freedoms.»

«May that patrimony,» the Pope concluded, «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.»

After the address, the Pontiff went to the archbishop’s residence in Edinburgh to have lunch along with the rest of his entourage.

Later, at 5:15 p.m., he will celebrate an open-air Mass in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow. The Holy Father will then depart by plane for London.

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Papal address: http://www.zenit.org/article-30360?l=english

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