Cardinal Keith O’Brien, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, hopes that Pope Benedict XVI will remind Catholics how they should live their Christian faith today, writes Peter Jennings.
Speaking at his home in Edinburgh on Wednesday August 4, the eve of his silver jubilee as a bishop, 1985-2010, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, said: “I should particularly like the Holy Father to remind Catholics in Scotland of the basics of our Catholic faith and how we should be living it in these challenging times.”
Asked what had been most precious to him during his 25 years as a bishop, Cardinal Keith O’Brien said: “My relationship to my priests and my people. I succeeded Cardinal Gordon Gray and now after 25 years as a bishop in this archdiocese I have inherited that fatherly mantle which he passed on to me.”
Cardinal O’Brien, 72, added: “I was ordained archbishop at St Mary’s Cathedral here in Edinburgh on August 5 1985. It has been a very happy 25 years in this wonderful diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.”
Pope Benedict XVI is due to fly from Rome to Edinburgh on Thursday September 16 at the start of his four-day state visit to Britain.
He will travel directly from the airport to the palace of Holyroodhouse where he will be met by the Queen. During an exclusive interview Cardinal O’Brien said: “The people of Edinburgh will have an opportunity to see the Holy Father when he is driven from Holyroodhouse in the popemobile along Princes Street to my home in Morningside on the feast of St Ninian, the first acknowledged missionary to Scotland.”
The cardinal said that while the crowds are waiting for Pope Benedict to pass by they will be entertained by a procession of pipe bands and a pageant by schoolchildren from the archdiocese.
In the pageant, characters from Scottish history will process down Princes Street in front of the popemobile, including St Ninian, St Andrew, Mary Queen of Scots, St Margaret, Bonnie Prince Charlie – and the leader of the Scottish Reformation, John Knox.
Cardinal O’Brien said: “After his arrival here the Holy Father will go to my private chapel for a few moments of quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.”
In the chapel the cardinal pointed out the two stained-glass windows depicting two great Scottish missionaries – St Ninian who brought the Gospel to Scotland and St Columba who founded of the monastery of Iona. St Columba died on June 9 in 597.
Cardinal O’Brien pointed out the words on the altar cloth: “Serve the Lord with Gladness.” He said: “This is the motto that I chose in 1985 when I was appointed by Pope John Paul II as archbishop of this diocese.” The cardinal added: “I will entertain the Holy Father and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and other close aides at a private lunch.
“After a rest the Pope will be taken by motorcade to Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, where he will celebrate a late afternoon Mass for the Catholics of Scotland.”
Twenty-eight years ago, on May 31 1982, during the six-day pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II to Great Britain, this correspondent travelled in the motorcade with the official Vatican party behind the popemobile as it travelled along Princes Street.
The Polish pope had just been given a rapturous reception when he addressed more than 40,000 young people from all over Scotland at Murrayfield Stadium.