Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Pope confirms visit to Scotland

The pope with the Scottish Bishops
Pope Benedict with the Scottish bishops

The Pope has confirmed that he will visit Scotland as part of his trip to Britain later this year.

Pope Benedict XVI told Scottish Catholic bishops gathered in Rome that he looked forward to being with them on their native soil.

During the address he gave vocal support to Scotland's catholic schools, saying: "Faith schools are a powerful force for social cohesion."

The Vatican has yet to issue an itinerary for the papal visit.

Speaking to the Scottish bishops, the Pope described the Reformation 450 years ago as a "great rupture with Scotland's Catholic past" but stressed the need for ongoing ecumenical dialogue.

He also spoke against euthanasia and sectarianism.

As Scots Catholics we are proud of our nation's long relationship with the Holy See
Cardinal Keith O'Brien

The Pope concluded by giving his Apostolic Blessing on the Catholic Church in Scotland.

Responding to the address, Cardinal Keith O'Brien said: "Together with my brother Bishops, I am filled with joy at the news that the Holy Father will visit Scotland.

"Since he has confirmed his intention to visit us we in turn will now begin our preparations for his visit in earnest."

Special day

During the private audience, Cardinal O'Brien promised the Pope a "heartfelt welcome" in Scotland and told him: "We are thrilled that your visit will include Scotland."

The cardinal, who is president of the Bishops' Conference, added: "As Scots Catholics we are proud of our nation's long relationship with the Holy See."

Pope Benedict XV1
The Pope will visit Scotland later this year

Jim Murphy, the Secretary of State for Scotland who is co-ordinating the Papal visit to Britain, said: "I am delighted that the Pope has now confirmed he will visit Scotland in the autumn.

"There has been a lot of work behind the scenes to make this happen and I travelled to the Vatican to meet the Holy Father in October last year.

"I am sure this is going to be a hugely successful visit and that the Pope will receive a very warm welcome from across Scotland.

"It will be very special day.

"It will be a beautiful occasion and a chance for Scots of all faiths to celebrate and to say that faith still matters in Scotland.

"We will announce the details of the four-day visit shortly."

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