Pope Benedict XVI has told reporters on his flight to the UK that the Catholic Church has not been vigilant enough against paedophilia.
Nick Pisa, part of the press ‘Vat Pack’ on the plane, said the Pontiff expressed his shock and sadness at the child abuse scandal which is rocking the Catholic Church. Thousands of people gathered on the streets of Edinburgh to watch the Pope, dressed in a tartan scarf, be driven in the glass-backed ‘Popemobile’ on his way to lunch with Cardinal Keith O’Brien.There was jeering as he went by protestors assembled in an officially designated area but the Pope and the police should have been pleased His Holiness’s critics did not turn out in larger numbers.The Holy Father was received at Edinburgh Airport by the Duke of Edinburgh. He then travelled to Holyrood Palace where he was officially welcomed by the Queen. When the national anthem played during a ceremony full of pomp and pageantry, a relaxed-looking Pope removed his ceremonial Zucchetto hat as a mark of respect. The Queen and His Royal Highness went with the Pope to the Morning Drawing Room to exchange gifts. She presented him with a facsimile of 85 drawings by Hans Holbein the Younger which included a print of Sir John More. The Pope examined the drawings, leafing through the pages, and thanked her. The Pontiff then presented his gift, telling the Queen it was a copy of the Lorsch Gospels dating from 778 to 820. The Queen said: “Thank you very much. It’s lovely.” The Pope praised Britain’s fight against Hitler’s “atheist extremism”. He said “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”. The Pope, who was forced to join the Hitler Youth as a 14-year-old schoolboy, said the UK remained “a key figure politically and economically on the international stage”. “May it always maintain its respect for those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate.”
“As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th 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 a reductive vision of a person and his destiny.” The Pope’s spirited speech followed his frank remarks on the plane, in which he told the media the Church did not act rapidly enough to prevent child abuse. “We are in a moment of pennance. Our first thoughts must be with the victims so they can overcome the trauma and restore their faith,” he said. “It’s difficult to understand as priests prepare for many years and are supposed to be the hands, mouth, voices of Christ and be good shepherds.”It is also a great sadness that the authorities of the Church were not sufficiently vigilant and insufficiently quick and decisive in taking the necessary measures. “We must exclude these people from the Church and prevent them from accessing young children.” The Queen wished the Pope a “fruitful” and “memorable visit” and said worship is key to the social fabric of the United Kingdom.
“Your Holiness, in recent times you have said that religions can never become vehicles of hatred, that never by invoking the name of God can evil and violence be justified,” Her Majesty said.”Today, in this country, we stand united in that conviction.”We hold that freedom to worship is at the core of our tolerant and democratic society.”On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I wish you a most fruitful and memorable visit.” It is the Pope’s first official visit as Head of State, although it is not classed as a State visit, as matters of state will not be discussed – its purpose is purely religious.
It is the first time Britain has welcomed a Pontiff since Pope John Paul II made a pastoral visit in 1982.But it has been overshadowed by the withdrawal of Cardinal Walter Kasper, a key member of the entourage, just days after he labelled Britain a ‘Third World country’.Pope Benedict will go from Edinburgh to Glasgow to conduct an open-air Mass before heading to London, where he will meet Prime Minister David Cameron.His Holiness will tour the capital for two days and then travel to Birmingham for his last day before returning to Rome.The Pontiff is widely expected to meet child abuse victims during his four-day visit.Other groups, rejecting the Vatican’s view on equal rights for homosexuals, have vowed to take part in noisy street protests – News.sky