Edinburgh: Christmas message from Cardinal O'Brien

 When we began the Advent season, we entered a period of waiting for our commemoration of the coming of Our Lord. The coming of Christ had been long awaited, but no one expected his birth to be as it was - in a stable at Bethlehem. In recent years like many Christians I have also been waiting. My waiting has involved waiting for society, or more accurately for certain institutions within society, to recognise the Christian foundation upon which our celebrations at this time of the year are built. This year I have a sense of hope that the Christian message at the heart of Christmas is finally being heard. I am hopeful that the pinnacle of politically correct posturing in recent years has passed. I would hope that councils, Parliaments and other public bodies will no longer feel they have to contort their language to avoid mention of the word "Christmas". I am certain that there never was a real risk of alienating or marginalising those of other faiths, as was often claimed. It was especially heartening to read the message from the Scottish President of the Muslim Association of Britain who said: "We'd like to take this opportunity to wish Christians all the best for the season ahead, and hope that they enjoy their festival as much as we enjoy ours. It therefore needs to be made clear that Muslims are not offended by the Christ part of Christmas. One of the most joyous features about all the major faiths are the festivals. Such welcome words underline the true meaning of tolerance and respect. If members of other faiths can extend their good wishes to their Christian brothers and sisters as many have done recently, hoping that we have a peaceful and holy season, surely we must do the same to one another and to all people of goodwill. As we await the arrival of our Saviour, I hope we can use the time to recognise the Christian foundation upon which our society is built and remind ourselves in the words of Pope Benedict XVI that Christ came to this world, "to be with us, to live among us, to live in and with us; to fill the distances that divide and separate us and to reconcile us with himself and with one another". May the joy and peace of this holy season be with you all, and may God help us all to share the joys of Christmas in the year which lies ahead. Source: SCMO

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