Pope says UK is a force for good

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI praised the UK as a “force for good” as he arrived in the country for his four-day visit.

But he also delivered a warning about “aggressive forms of secularism” when he urged the nation not to lose its traditional values as it “strives to be a modern and multicultural society”.

The pontiff flew in to Edinburgh airport for the first papal state visit to the UK, and was then officially welcomed by the Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the city.

In a speech at the palace, delivered in English, the Pope spoke of the UK’s important place in history.

He said: “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 cited anti-slave campaigners William Wilberforce and David Livingstone, and women such as Florence Nightingale, as examples of that force for good.

“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,” he added.

Addressing the Queen, he said: “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.”

After a private audience with the Queen, Benedict boarded his “Popemobile” and embarked on a journey through the streets of Edinburgh, waving at the thousands of well-wishers you had gathered along the route.

Later on Thursday, the Pope will take Mass in front of up to 80,000 worshippers in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park. He will then travel to London to begin the next leg of his visit.

Source: Press Association

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