Benedict XVI has called the United Kingdom to draw from its "Christian foundation" as it addresses the challenges of the modern day. He expressed hope that society would continue to respect the traditional values and cultural expressions which are no longer valued or tolerated by "more aggressive forms of secularism."
The Pope arrived to the Queen's Edinburgh residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, to festive traditional bagpipe music on the first morning of his U.K. visit. In his first official address of the four-day tour, the Holy Father spoke to members of the monarchy and the Scottish parliament, and even briefly to British media, about working for the good of society.
Recalling the U.K.'s history of "deep Christian roots," including work done by the monarchy and figures such as Florence Nightingale and Cardinal John Henry Newman, the Pope noted that the Christian message has been "an integral part of the language, thought and culture" of the people for a millennium.
"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."
He then recalled the role of the British in standing against Nazi tyranny, spreading peace in post-World War II Europe and resolving the conflict in Northern Ireland. Specifically referring to the British opposition to Nazism and its goal to "eradicate God from society," the Holy Father urged the faithful not to forget how "exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and society and thus to a 'reductive vision of the person and his destiny'."
Noting the U.K.'s political and economic influence on the international stage as "shapers of ideas," he told them that it is their "particular duty" to act for the common good of the world, with wisdom.
He called out British media specifically on this point, saying that they have "a graver responsibility than most and a great opportunity to promote the peace of nations, the integral development of peoples and the spread of authentic human rights."
Some voices in the British media have been particularly harsh towards the Pope leading up to the trip, particularly citing the cost of his visit to the U.K. public and his teachings as points of contention.
Wishing for the people's continued perpetuation of the values that have earned the U.K. international esteem, the Pope concluded his speech with words of hope for Great Britain as it takes on the "challenging enterprise" of becoming a "modern and multicultural society."
He asked that "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," he said, "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."
To read the Pope's full address, visit: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/unitedkingdom10/resource.php?res_id=1438