Pope Benedict XVI met Scotland’s Catholic Bishops during their Rome from 3 – 10 February 2010 for their ‘Ad Limina’, five-yearly visit to the Holy See.
In his remarks to the Scottish Bishops on Friday 5th February 2010, Pope Benedict spoke against euthanasia and sectarianism and gave vocal support to Scotland’s Catholic schools saying; “You can be proud of the contribution made by Scotland’s Catholic schools in overcoming sectarianism and building good relations between communities. Faith schools are a powerful force for social cohesion.”
Referring to Catholic teachers, the Pope urged the Bishops to encourage them in their work and to “place special emphasis on the quality and depth of religious education, so as to prepare an articulate and well-informed Catholic laity, able and willing to carry out its mission”.
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.”
Reacting to the address, 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.”
During a private audience Cardinal Keith O’Brien thanked the Pope for his teaching and promised him a “heartfelt welcome” to Scotland later this year, saying “we are thrilled that your visit will include Scotland”. The Cardinal, who is President of the Bishops’ Conference added, “As Scots Catholics we are proud of our nation’s long relationship with the Holy See.”
He stressed the Church’s long commitment to education from earliest times, citing; “the foundation by Papal authority of three of our great Scottish universities at St. Andrews in 1413, Glasgow in 1451, and Aberdeen in 1495.” He added, “Catholic schools at primary and secondary level continue this fine tradition of Catholic education as a service not just to the Catholic community but to the wider Scottish society.”
Cardinal O’Brien concluded by asking the Pope for his Apostolic Blessing “for us, for our priests and our people, and for Scotland.”