Queen Notes Common Heritage, Concerns of Pope
Stresses Opportunity to Deepen Anglican-Catholic Relations
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EDINBURGH, Scotland, SEPT. 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Queen Elizabeth II welcomed Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom, affirming the common Christian heritage and global concerns that they share.
The Pope today began his four-day state visit in Edinburgh, with a welcoming ceremony held in the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the summer home of the royal family.
The queen met privately with the Pontiff, after which both ascended to a stage in the palace park to address the 400 political, civil, and church leaders of Scotland gathered there.
In her address, Queen Elizabeth II said to the Holy Father, "Your presence here today reminds us of our common Christian heritage, and of the Christian contribution to the encouragement of world peace, and to the economic and social development of the less prosperous countries of the world."
"In this country," the queen noted, "we deeply appreciate the involvement of the Holy See in the dramatic improvement in the situation in Northern Ireland."
She added that "the Holy See continues to have an important role in international issues, in support of peace and development and in addressing common problems like poverty and climate change."
Queen Elizabeth II acknowledged the Church's "special contribution," particularly "in its ministry to the poorest and most deprived members of society, its care for the homeless and for the education provided by its extensive network of schools."
She underlined "the relationship between the different faiths" as "a fundamental factor in the necessary cooperation within and between nation states."
"I am pleased that your visit will also provide an opportunity to deepen the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the established Church of England and the Church of Scotland," the queen said.
She added that it is "vital to encourage a greater mutual and respectful understanding."
For his part, Benedict XVI also affirmed the role of Britain in this common task of building peace and seeking the common good throughout the world's history.
He spoke about instances such as Britain's intervention "to stop the international slave trade," and the work of women like Florence Nightingale that "set new standards in healthcare."
The Pope pointed out, "Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.
He acknowledged the British government's role in Northern Ireland to accomplish "a peaceful resolution of the conflict there."
"Looking abroad, the United Kingdom remains a key figure politically and economically on the international stage," the Pontiff stated.
He noted, "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."
The Holy Father thanked the authorities and highlighted "the friendly relations existing between the Holy See and the United Kingdom."
This is the first official state visit by a Pope to the United Kingdom, initiated by an invitation of Queen Elizabeth II to Benedict XVI. The last Papal visit took place in 1982, when John Paul II traveled to Britain.
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On ZENIT's Web page:
Queen's address: http://www.zenit.org/article-30363?l=english
Papal address: http://www.zenit.org/article-30360?l=english