...and this is what he said as he arrived in Scotland, and was greeted by HM the Queen. I've highlighted bits that are of especial interest, and which rouse us today:
"The name of Holyroodhouse, Your Majesty’s official residence in Scotland, recalls the "Holy Cross" and points to the deep Christian roots that are still present in every layer of British life. The monarchs of England and Scotland have been Christians from very early times and include outstanding saints like Edward the Confessor and Margaret of Scotland. As you know, many of them consciously exercised their sovereign duty in the light of the Gospel, and in this way shaped the nation for good at the deepest level. As a result, the Christian message has been an integral part of the language, thought and culture of the peoples of these islands for more than a thousand years. 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.
We find many examples of this force for good throughout Britain’s long history. Even in comparatively recent times, due to figures like William Wilberforce and David Livingstone, Britain intervened directly to stop the international slave trade. Inspired by faith, women like Florence Nightingale served the poor and the sick and set new standards in healthcare that were subsequently copied everywhere. John Henry Newman, whose beatification I will celebrate shortly, was one of many British Christians of his age whose goodness, eloquence and action were a credit to their countrymen and women. These, and many people like them, were inspired by a deep faith born and nurtured in these islands.
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. I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives. As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a "reductive vision of the person and his destiny" (Caritas in Veritate, 29)."
Last night, I joined a great throng of people from across London who came to welcome the H. Father as he arrived at Wimbledon. The crowd was much, much larger than we had expected - there were lots of families, teams of young people with banners saying "WELCOME HOLY FATHER", young men from the seminary, parish groups. Some people had brought candles and lanterns. I met several old friends, had some wonderful conversations - there was an atmosphere of great goodwill and happiness - and we cheered various policemen who came by, and various vans and cars and then ...here he came!! Flashing blue lights, lots of police outriders - then a car and a small figure, a white-clad arm waving, a great surge of cheers from the crowd, followed by persistent shouting and chanting. People suddenly went Italian and shouted "Viva il Papa!", some broke into song, others raised a hip-hip-hurrah! We went on cheering as he went inside - and then finally some windows opened and he came out and greeted us...
The crowd took a good while to disperse - we'd all been enjoying ourselves. Children were excited by being out of doors in the night on the edge of the Common, all wild and dark behind them. Friends lingered to talk. People enjoyed swapping inconsequential news "They gave him haggis for lunch!" "I hope he's able to get a good rest - he's had an amazing day" "He deserves a good whisky-and-soda". And overall "The crowds in Scotland were great - it's all right. It's going to be all right!"