Pope Benedict confirms visit to Scotland
It has been confirmed that Pope Benedict is to visit Scotland during his pastoral trip to the UK in the autumn.
The announcement was made during an ad limina visit to the Vatican by Scotland’s Catholic bishops.
The Pontiff told the bishops, “Later this year, I shall have the joy of being present with you and the Catholics of Scotland on your native soil.”
The papal visit will be the first since Pope John Paul II’s pastoral trip in 1982, when he visited Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park and Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.
Pope Benedict was invited to the UK by Prime Minister Gordon Brown during a private audience last February.
Responding to the news, Cardinal Keith O’Brien said: “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.”
The Cardinal thanked the Pope and promised him a “heartfelt welcome” to Scotland, saying “we are thrilled that your visit will include Scotland”.
In his remarks, Pope Benedict spoke against euthanasia and sectarianism and gave vocal support to Scotland’s Catholic schools. The Pontiff described Faith schools as “a powerful force for social cohesion”.
Referring to the Reformation 450 years ago, which he described as a “great rupture with Scotland’s Catholic past”, the Pope stressed the need for ongoing ecumenical dialogue to ensure that “the work of rebuilding unity among the followers of Christ is carried forward with constancy and commitment”.