Dear brethern in Jesus Christ,
1. This meeting which the Lord has granted us today is one which I deeply appreciate. It is complementary to the service of prayer and praise in which we have just joined in Canterbury Cathedral, and is evidence of the work of reconciliation to which we are all committed. “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us a ministry of reconciliation” (2Co 5,18). “All this is from God” - it is his work we are seeking to do, his will we are trying to fulfil. By baptism and the degree of common faith we have just been celebrating in the Cathedral, he has already established between us a certain communion, a communion that is real even if it is limited. It is indeed a spiritual communion, “the fellow-ship of the Holy Spirit” (Ibid. 13, 13) whose coming on the Church we shall once again celebrate tomorrow.
2. But such communion in the Spirit cannot and must not remain something abstract. It has to find expression in the life of our Churches and communities; it has to be sufficiently visible to be even now a witness we give together to our will for Christian unity in a world that is so sadly divided, a world in which peace is imperilled from so many sides. For these reasons it is a joy for me to hear from you of your hopes for the growth of Christians in these countries into deeper communion, a growth to which through God’s grace we are all committed, a growth which we all intend to foster whatever the difficulties we may experience. I have been so happy to learn of the cooperation of the Catholic Church not only with individual Churches and Communities but also with many of the initiatives of the British Council of Churches. I am also pleased to know of the relations of confidence between the Catholic Bishops and the leaders of other Churches and Communities which do so much to facilitate cooperation in evangelization in those areas in which this is already possible.
3. You have spoken to me frankly of your hopes and of your problems. Clearly in a short and informal meeting like this we cannot discuss everything. It is my hope, and I am sure it is also yours, that our meeting this morning will not be the end of this fruitful exchange but rather a beginning. I would like to think that, before too long, some of you would be prepared to visit Rome together with some representatives of the Episcopal Conferences of Great Britain and to have further conversations with the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity and other offices of the Roman Curia. Thus, please God, we should be able to build further on the foundations so happily laid today.
4. Once more I thank you for your courtesy in coming to meet me. I realize that for this purpose you have left an important meeting organized by the British Council of Churches. When you return there, please assure all those taking part that the Pope longs for the day when, in fulfilment of Christ’s will, we shall all be one - one with him and one with each other. God grant that that day may not be long delayed.
“Peace be to the brethern, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love undying” (Ep 6,23-24). Amen.
Sunday, 30 May 1982
My brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,
1. Thank you for your kind welcome. Thank you for coming here to greet me. In my turn, I greet you in the words of the Risen Saviour: Peace be with you. May peace be in your homes, and may the peace of Christ reign in your minds and hearts.
It is good to be here. I am glad to pay my first visit to this region of England and to the city of Liverpool of which you are so proud.
Here near to the sea, I am reminded that you are a seafaring nation. For centuries the people of these islands have traded by sea, explored by sea and made a living from the sea. I am also thinking of the many missionaries - priests, sisters, brothers and lay people - who have sailed from your ports to play their part in building up the life of the Church in other lands. These men and women are a sign of the vitality of the faith which you have received and cherished. And their going forth upon the sea is a symbol of the confidence and trust which Christ asks of all his disciples.
We do well, too, to remember in our prayers those who have given their lives at sea and whose resting place bears no stone or monument. May they rest in the peace of the Lord. For so long your city of Liverpool has been a great port. People of many lands have made it their home. Here in past centuries people have seen the face of suffering, caused by such evils as slavery and great poverty. You have also witnessed the achievements of technical progress and human development. But perhaps your greatest heritage is found in all those who have struggled here to overcome the ills of society and to build up a common brotherhood. In this regard I am told that you have your own pioneer of charity, Father Nugent.
2. It is only fitting that I should take this occasion to acknowledge the generosity for which Britain has long been known. Though the links between this nation and other parts of the world have changed in the course of time, much aid is still sent to those in need, especially in the developing countries - and lately to my own homeland. I remember how Cardinal Heenan, who had once been Archbishop of Liverpool, told the Polish Bishops during the Second Vatican Council: “It was the Polish pilots who saved England during the war”. His words and your recent assistance to Poland show the strong ties of concern and friendship which have existed for years between Poland and Britain. I pray that these ties will be ever deepened and renewed.
I hope that, despite all obstacles, the generosity of your hearts will never weaken. I hope that, through programmes such as the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development, you will continue to help the poor, to feed the hungry and to contribute to the cause of development. Always keep alive your Gospel tradition of loving concern and service to others in the name of Jesus.
3. Our times present us with many challenges and difficulties. One problem in particular which I would like to mention is unemployment.I know that you are experiencing this very seriously in Liverpool, and it is one of the major problems facing society as a whole. In many countries, unemployment has risen sharply and caused hardship to individuals and families. It tends to sow seeds of bitterness, division and even violence. The young, unable to find a job, feel cheated of their dreams, while those who have lost their jobs feel rejected and useless. This tragedy affects every aspect of life, from the material and physical to the mental and spiritual. It therefore very much concerns the Church, which makes her own the hardships and sufferings, as well as the joys and hopes, of the men and women of our time. It is a matter of vital importance and it deserves the attention and prayers of all people of good will.
4. I greet warmly all the disabled who have come here to meet me today. You have a special place in my heart and in the love of Christ. And I assure you that your role in the Church is a most important one. You and those who are sick and infirm build up the Kingdom of God when you patiently accept your sufferings and offer them with Christ as a pleasing sacrifice to our heavenly Father. As Saint Paul said, your sufferings help “to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church” (Col 1,24).
I have been told that as I travel through Liverpool our motorcade will be passing along Hope Street. This name struck me immediately as an expression of the aspirations of the people who live here, an expression of their hope for the future, especially for the future of their children and their children’s children. So many dangers and problems face our young people today. I have already mentioned unemployment. In addition there are such evils as alcoholism and drug addiction, pornography, misguided notions of sexuality, and increasing crime and violence.
All these ills of society could bring us to disillusionment and even despair, if we were not a people of hope, if we did not have a deep and abiding confidence in the power and mercy of God. And so our young people, indeed all of us, need the virtue of hope, a hope founded not on fantasy and dreams, not even on what is seen, but a hope which arises from our faith in the God who loves us and is our gentle and merciful Father. “Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen” (Ep 3,20-21).
Murrayfield (Great Britain), 31 May 1982
Dear young people of Scotland!
1. Thank you for such warm words of welcome. I am happy that my first contact is with you, the pride of your beloved country and the promise of its bright future!
You are at the great crossroads of your lives and you must decide how your future can be lived happily, accepting the responsibilities which you hope will be placed squarely on your shoulders, playing an active role in the world around you. You ask me for encouragement and guidance, and most willingly I offer some words of advice to all of you, in the name of Jesus Christ.
In the first place I say this: you must never think that you are alone in deciding your future!
An secondly: when deciding your future, you must not decide for yourself alone!
2. There is an episode in the life of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, which can serve as an example for what I wish to tell you. Jesus had been teaching a crowd of five thousand people about the Kingdom of God. They had listened carefully all day, and as evening approached he did not want to send them away hungry, so he told his disciples to give them something to eat. He said this really to test them, because he knew exactly what he was going to do. One of the disciples - it was Saint Andrew - said: “There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fishes; but what is that between so many?” Jesus took the loaves, blessed them, and gave them out to all who were sitting waiting; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted. Later the disciples collected twelve baskets of the fragments that were left over.
Now the point I wish to make is this: Saint Andrew gave Jesus all there was available, and Jesus miraculously fed those five thousand people and still had something left over. It is exactly the same with your lives. Left alone to face the difficult challenges of life today, you feel conscious of your inadequacy and afraid of what the future may hold for you. But what I say to you is this: place your lives in the hands of Jesus. He will accept you, and bless you, and he will make such use of your lives as will be beyond your greatest expectations! In other words: surrender yourselves, like so many loaves and fishes, into the all-powerful, sustaining hands of God and you will find yourselves transformed with “newness of life”, with fullness of life. “Unload your burden on the Lord, and he will support you”.
3. It is not of primary importance what walk of life naturally attracts you - industry or commerce, science or engineering, medicine or nursing, the priestly or religious life, or the law, or teaching, or some other form of public service - the principle remains always the same: hand the direction of your life over to Jesus and allow him to transform you and obtain the best results, the one he wishes from you.
Only Christianity has given a religious meaning to work and recognizes the spiritual value of technological progress. There is no vocation more religious than work! Saint Benedict used to say to his monks that every implement in the monastery must be regarded as a sacred vessel. A Catholic layman or laywoman is someone who takes work seriously. Why? Because, as Saint Paul says, “I live now not with my own life, but with the life of Christ who lives in me”; “Life to me is Christ”.
4. How can this be? That is a good question. Our Blessed Lady, Mary of Nazareth, asked that very same question when God’s extraordinary plan for her life was first explained to her. And the answer which Mary received from Almighty God is the identical answer that he gives to you: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow . . . nothing is impossible to God”.
This is the one same Holy Spirit who came to you at Baptism and again, with increased vigour, at Confirmation, precisely to prepare and fortify you for the challenge of life. Not one of you is without him! No one must ever feel alone! The Spirit of the Lord has been given to you!
Who is this Holy Spirit? He is God himself. The Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. He is sent to each of us by the Father and the Son. He is their greatest gift and he remains constantly with us. He abides in us.
We have difficulty in forming a concept of the Holy Spirit in our mind. It is of the highest importance, however, that we have some understanding of his influence and his activity in our lives.
5. The clearest description of the work of the Holy Spirit has been given by Saint Paul, who said that the Spirit produces “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control”. Qualities such as these are ideal in every walk of life and in all circumstances: at home, with your parents and brothers and sisters; at school, with your teachers and friends; in the factory or at the university; with all the people you meet.
The Prophet Isaiah also attributed special gifts to the Holy Spirit: “a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and fortitude, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord”. Saint Paul is right in saying: “Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit”.
6. With gifts and qualities such as these we are equal to any task and capable of overcoming any difficulties. Yet our lives remain our own, and the Spirit acts on each of us differently, in harmony with our individual personality and the characteristics we have inherited from our parents and from the upbringing received in our homes.
If you pause to reflect for a moment or two you will begin to realize how much you experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in your lives, especially through the goodness and kindness that other people show to you, even though you do not actually see him in the world. The Holy Spirit is a living Spirit and his action is interwoven with all the realities of our lives, so that daily we encounter him in other people, but also in particular happenings and in the things of nature, which so frequently direct our thoughts to God. And my visit to you today, our being together, is a work of the Holy Spirit.
7. Because he is so near to us, yet so unobtrusive, we should turn to the Holy Spirit instinctively in all our needs and ask him for his guidance and help. God has sent him to us because of our helplessness, as Saint Paul says so beautifully: “The Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words”. What more could God do for us? What more can we expect of God than that?
8. If the Holy Spirit were to be withdrawn then we would immediately notice the diference. Saint Paul tells us what happens when we refuse to be guided by the Spirit: “when self-indulgence is at work the results are obvious: fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility . . . feuds and wrangling, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels; disagreements, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and similar things. I warm you now, as I warned you before: those who behave like this will not inherit the kingdom of God”.
This too is part of the liberating Good News of the Gospel. A correct understanding of the teaching of Jesus makes us react in a creative and cooperative fashion to the challenges that face us in life, without fear of acting mistakenly and alone, but under the guiding influence of his own Holy Spirit at every moment and in every circumstance, be it great or small.
9. This extraordinary divine assistance is guaranteed to all who offer their lives to Jesus. God the Father’s plan of salvation embraces all mankind; his one same Holy Spirit is sent as gift to all who are open to receive him in faith. We each form a part of God’s overall plan. An exclusively personal and private attitude to salvation is not Christian and is born of a fundamentally mistaken mentality.
Consequently, your lives cannot be lived in isolation, and even in deciding your future you must always keep in mind your responsibility as Christians towards others. There is no place in your lives for apathy or indifference to the world around you. There is no place in the Church for selfishness. You must show a conscientious concern that the standards of society fit the plan of God. Christ counts on you, so that the effects of his Holy Spirit may radiate from you to others and in that way permeate every aspect of the public and the private sector of national life. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good”.
10. Do not let the sight of the world in turmoil shake your confidence in Jesus. Not even the threat of nuclear war. Remember his words: “Be brave: I have conquered the world”. Let no temptation discourage you. Let no failure hold you down. There is nothing that you cannot master with the help of the One who gives you strength.
11. Follow the example of Our Blessed Lady, the perfect model of trust in God and wholehearted cooperation in his divine plan for the salvation of mankind. Keep in mind the advice she gave the servants at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you”. Jesus changed the water into wine for his Mother on that occasion. Through her intercession he will transform your lives.
I must continue now with my pilgrimage through your beloved Scotland. I take leave of you happy in the thought that your young hearts accompany me on my journey, and that I have the support of your daily prayers. For my part I wish to assure you, each and every one of you, of my love in Christ Jesus.
Young people of Scotland, I thank you. Keep the faith joyfully; and my blessing be with you.
Oìgridh na h-Alba, tha mi toirt taing dhùibh.
Cumaibh an creideamh gu sòlasach;
agus mo bheannachd leibh.
Monday, 31 May 1982
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
1. As the Church celebrates Mary’s great song of praise to God, the Magnificat, I am very happy to be with you in this Cathedral dedicated to her name. I thank God for your love of Christ and your commitment to his Church.
You represent all the priests and men and women religious of Scotland. You are the closest collaborators of the Bishops in their pastoral ministry. You are present in every area of the community’s life, hastening the coming of the Kingdom of God through your prayer and work. In you I feel the heartbeat of the entire ecclesial community. In your lives I read the history of the Church in this land, a history of much faith and love. I recognize the contribution made by priests and religious from other lands, especially from Ireland, who have helped to strengthen the Catholic community here. Your presence speaks of hope and vitality for the future.
During my pastoral visits to the various countries of the world, my meeting with the priests and religious are special moments of ecclesial significance. And today, once again, I am able to fulfil my task: to confirm you in the faith (Cfr. Luc Lc 22,31), and to remind you, with Saint Peter, that you have been born anew to a living hope, to an inheritance that is imperishable (Cfr. 1 Petr. 1, 4).
2. My greeting goes in the first place to the priests, both diocesan and religious, sharers in the one priesthood of Christ the High Priest, “appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins (Hebr. 5, 1). Your presence gives me great joy and fraternal support. In you I recognize the good shepherd, the faithful servant, the sower who goes out to sow the good seed, the labourer in the vineyard, the fisherman who launches his net for a catch. You are Christ’s close friends: “I call you friends, not servants, for the servant does not know his Master’s business” (Jn 15,15).
As priests we must recognize the mystery of grace in our lives. As Saint Paul puts it, we have this ministry “by the mercy of God” (2Co 4,1). It is a gift. It is an act of trust on Crist’s part, calling us to be “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1Co 4,1). It is a sacramental configuration with Christ the High Priest. The priesthood is not ours to do with as we please. We cannot re-invent its meaning according to our personal views. Ours is to be true to the One who has called us.
The priesthood is a gift to us. But in us and through us the priesthood is a gift to the Church. Let us never separate our priestly life and ministry from full and wholehearted communion with the whole Church. Brothers in the priestly ministry, what does the Church expect from you? The Church expects that you and your brothers and sisters, the religious, will be the first to love her, to hear her voice and follow her inspiration, so that the people of our time may be served effectively.
3. As priests you are at the service of Christ the Teacher (Cfr. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 1). A very important part of your ministry is to preach and teach the Christian message. In the passage that I have already mentioned, Saint Paul describes his own attitude to this ministry: “We refuse to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2Co 4,2). We must not tamper with God’s word. We must strive to apply the Good News to the ever-changing conditions of the world but, courageously and at all costs, we must resist the temptation to alter its content, or reinterpret it in order to make it fit the spirit of the present age. The message we preach is not the wisdom of this world (Cfr. 1Co 1,20), but the words of life that seem like foolishness to the unspiritual man (Cfr. ibid. 2, 14). “In their case,” Paul continues, “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God” (2Co 4,4). He goes on: “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord” (Ibid. 4, 5).
We should not be surprised then if our message of conversion and life is not always well received. Do everything in your power to present the word as effectively as possible, believe in the power of the word itself, and never become discouraged: “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how” (Marc. 4, 26-27). Yet, in another sense, we do know how the seed grows: “God gives the growth” (1Co 3,7). In this sense we are “God’s fellow-workers” (Ibid.3, 6). How careful we must be about our preaching! It should be the continuation of our prayer.
4. We priests share in the priesthood of Christ. We are his ministers, his instruments. But it is Christ who in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, offer divine life to mankind (Cfr. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 5). With what care, with what love must we celebrate the sacred mysteries! The sacredness of what takes place in our liturgical celebrations must not be obscured. These celebrations must be an experience of prayer and ecclesial communion for all who take part in them.
I know of the many efforts being made to ensure ecclesial renewal according to the directives of the Second Vatican Council. I encourage you to continue to develop among the laity a sense of shared responsibility for the liturgical and apostolic life of your priesthood, the laity are called to take their proper place in the Church’s life according to the grace and charism given to each one. Lead them in the faith. Inspire them and encourage them to work for the wellbeing and growth of the ecclesial family; their contribution is extremely important. Encourage the young, especially, to “desire the higher gifts” (1Co 12,31). Work closely with them, and also show them the challenge and attractiveness of the priesthood and the religious life.
5. To spend your lives in the service of the People of God, through word and sacrament: this is your great task, your glory, your treasure. But it is Saint Paul again who reminds us: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2Co 4,7). The personal experience of each of us is that priestly life come from a full acceptance of our priestly identity. We must love our vocation and mission, but we must also be seen to love our priesthood. Let your people see that you are men of prayer. Let them see that you treat the sacred mysteries with love and respect. Let them see that your commitment to peace, justice and truth is sincere, unconditional and brave. Let everyone see that you love the Church, and that you are of one mind and heart with her. What is at stake is the credibility of our witness!
6. Brothers and sisters, members of the religious communities! How I wish I could greet each of you personally! To hear from each one of you the “magnalia Dei”, how the Holy Spirit works in your lives! In the depths of your hearts, in the struggle between grace and sin, in the various moments and circumstances of your pilgrimage of faith - in how many ways has Christ spoken to you and said: “Come follow me”! Could the Pope come to Scotland and not say thank you for having answered that call? Of course not! So, thank you on behalf of the Church. Thank you for the specific witness you give and for all the gifts you contribute.
Because you have carried your baptismal grace to a degree of “total dedication to God by an act of supreme love” in religious consecration (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 44), you have become a sign of a higher life, a “life that is more than food, a body that is more than clothing” (Lc 12,33). Through the practice of the evangelical counsels you have become a prophetic sign of the eternal kingdom of the Father. In the midst of the world you point to the “one thing that is needed” (Ibid. 10, 42), to the “treasure that does not fail” (Ibid.12, 33). You possess the source of inspiration and of strength for the various forms of apostolic work which your institutes are called to carry out.
7. Those of you who belong to contemplative communities serve the People of God “in the heart of Christ.” You prophetically remind those engaged in building up the earthly city that, unless they lay its foundation in the Lord, they will have laboured in vain. Yours is a striking witness to the Gospel message, all the more necessary since the people of our time often succumb to a false sense of independence with respect to the Creator. Your lives testify to the absolute primacy of God and to the kingship of Christ.
8. And you, brothers and sisters, whose vocation is active work in ecclesial service, you must combine contemplation with your apostolic zeal. By contemplative prayer you cling to God in mind and heart; by apostolic love and zeal you associate yourselves with the work of redemption and you spread the kingdom of God (Cfr. Perfectae Caritatis PC 5). In your service to the human family you must take care not confuse the Regnum Dei with the Regnum hominis, as if political, social and economic liberation were the same as salvation in Jesus Christ (Cfr. IONANNIS PAULI I Allocutio, die 20 sept. 1978: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo 1P 74). Your prophetic role in the Church should lead you to discover and proclaim the deepest meaning of all human activity. Only when human activity preserves its relationship with the Creator does it preserve its dignity and reach fulfilment.
Your communities have been engaged in the process of renewal desired by the Second Vatican Council. You are trying to be ever more faithful to your role within the ecclesial community, in accordance with your specific charisms. Proceeding from the original inspiration of your founders and following the Magisterium of the Church, you are in an excellent position to discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit regarding the needs of the Church and the world today. Through appropriate exterior adaptation accompanied by constant spiritual conversion, your life and activity, within the context of the local and universal Church, becomes a magnificent expression of the Church’s own vitality and youth.
In the words of Saint Paul: “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world” (Rm 1,8).
9. Brothers and sisters, there is one who walks beside us along the path of discipleship: Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who pondered everything in her heart and always did the will of the Father (Cfr. Luc Lc 2,51 Marc Lc 3,35). In this Metropolitan Cathedral dedicated to her, I wish to return to the thoughts and sentiments that filled my heart at Fatima on 13 May. There I once again consecrated to her myself and my ministry: Totus Tuus Ego Sum.I re-consecrated, and entrusted to her maternal protection, the Church and the whole world, so much in need of wisdom and peace. These are some of the invocations I addressed to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at Fatima:
From famine and war, deliver us.
“From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.
“From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us.
“From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
“From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.
“From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.
“From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.
“From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us, deliver us.
“Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
“Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite power of merciful Love. May it put a stop to evil. May it transform consciences. May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope”.
And to each priest and deacon, to each religious brother and sister, to each seminarian, I leave a word of encouragement and a message of hope. With Saint Paul I say to you: “This explains why we work and struggle as we do; our hopes are fixed on the living God . . .” (1Tm 4,10). Yes, dear brothers and sisters, our hopes are fixed on the living God!
Tuesday, 1 June 1982
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren” (Ga 6,18).
1. It is a joy to meet with you this morning and I am very appreciative of your courtesy in coming at this early hour. Yesterday, soon after my arrival in Scotland, I had the happiness of being greeted by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Professor John McIntyre. In this regard, I cannot fail to recall that first historic meeting in 1961 between the then Moderator, Dr Archibald Craig, and my own predecessor John XXIII; or the courtesy of Dr Peter Brodie during his Moderatorial year in attending, in 1978, both my own installation and that of John Paul I. I am aware too of the significance of last night’s happy venue, the precincts of the Assembly Hall itself, the seat of the Church of Scotland’s Supreme Court, and also the locus of that momentous meeting in 1910 of the World Missionary Conference which is generally regarded as marking the beginnin of the modern Ecumenical Movement.
2. It was in that same spirit of prayerful ecumenical endeavour that I also had the great pleasure last Saturday of meeting representatives of the Church of Scotland and the Episcopal Church in Scotland, together with other British church leaders. I am sure that you will agree with me that such meetings as this have an importance of their own; the very fact that they take place is a witness before the world that, despite the sad history of division between Christ’s followers, all of us who worship the one true God are desirous today of collaborating in the name of God and of working together for the promotion of the human values of which he is the true Author.
3. In particular I have been pleased to learn of the fruitful dialogues in which the Catholic Church in this Country has been engaged with the Church of Scotland, the Episcopal Church in Scotland and other Churches, and also of its collaboration with the Scottish Churches’ Council in many aspects of its work. I would like to make special mention of the Joint Commissions on Doctrine and on Marriage with the Church of Scotland and the Joint Study Group with the Scottish Episcopal Church, members of which groups are present here this morning. May I express my appreciation for your patient and painstaking work in the name of Christ. Here too we have an instance of that common witness which is both an expression of the degree of unity, limited but real, which we already enjoy through God’s grace, and of our sincere desire to follow the ways by which God is leading us to that full unity which he alone can give. In following this road we have still to overcome many obstacles occasioned by the sad history of past enmities, we have to resolve important doctrinal issues; yet already mutual love, our will for unity, can be a sign of hope to a divided world - not least in these days in which peace is so sorely imperilled.
I have looked forward to this meeting. Brief though it is, it offers us an opportunity to greet one another as brethren and, most important of all, to join in prayer that he who has begun this good work in us will bring it to completion (Cfr. Phil Ph 1,6).