Pope Benedict arrived in Edinburgh this morning. He was greeted by the Duke of Edinburgh, Cardinal O'Brien and other Church leaders and a 30-strong honour guard from the Royal Regiment of Scotland. Lord Patten also welcomed him on behalf of the government.
Large crowds greeted his motorcade as it travelled through Edinburgh to Holyrood House, where he was welcomed by Queen Elizabeth.
Her Majesty said the visit was an opportunity to "deepen the relationship" between Catholicism and the Churches of England and Scotland. She also praised the Catholic Church's "special contribution" to helping the poorest and most vulnerable around the world.
Speaking after the Pope's arrival today, Cardinal Keith O'Brien said: "It has indeed been very very exciting, the Pope seems in excellent form, as did Her Majesty, and of course they both appear to be extremely happy in one another's company.
"Along Princes Street I really felt so proud. You could look to one side and see the backcloth of the Castle and the ramparts and so on, and on the other side a sea of faces, and just welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to our country.
"The Pope is a wonderful warm friendly character, radiating a certain calm and a certain peace from him, and the respect which was being shown him, and just the love that was radiating to him from the people who were lining along Princes Street.
"Yes, well I think that he's aware of all that has been done to make him so welcome from everybody in our country, from the First Minister in the Scottish Government down to the smallest school child."
Bishop John Cunnigham Bishop of Galloway said: "I feel it's something important for me. It's quite different when it's in your own country and specific to your own people and your own language. To have it there face to face is a wonderful experience. All the hard work that had to go in advance, it becomes worthwhile when you actually see it coming to fruition."
Bishop Joe Toal Bishop of Argyle and the Isles said: "I'm delighted to have him here and to make him feel that this is a country which appreciates his presence, appreciates the effort he has made as an elderly man to come to us and to be and to give us such an opportunity to celebrate together our Catholic faith and our Christian heritage."
Bishop Peter Moran Bishop of Aberdeen said: "One of the problems, obviously is, that we are a country where Catholics are very much in the minority. And in the Diocese of Aberdeen that's even more obvious than in most of the other areas of Scotland. The problem is how to be Christian in a country which is secular. I¹m sure the Pope will have something to say on that."
Bishop Joe Devine Bishop of Motherwell said: "Great, I never thought this would happen. Given his age and the fact that he's got to be very careful in marshalling his energy, I mean the man is well into his eighties now, it's a kind of miracle that he has decided to
make this visit. And the most astonishing thing of all is he actually arrives in Scotland on the Feast of St Ninian, today the Feast of Ninian our prime Apostle. So it's absolutely wonderful that he is coming at this time."
Christine Allen, director of Progressio, was at Holyrood. In a message sent from her phone, she said: "I just introduced myself as from Progressio, adding 'as in Populorum Progressio, because of the importance of international development today'. But we didn't really have much time to chat. I did say to the Queen (!) How good it was that she mentioned poverty, international development and climate change in her speech."
The text of Pope Benedict's address at Holyrood House follows:
Thank you for your gracious invitation to make an official 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 the deep Christian roots that are still present in every layer of British life. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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
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.
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 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.
To watch Pope Benedict's visit in real time, click on: www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&id=22871314