Pope Benedict is expected to address tens of thousands of worshippers at a major open air event in Glasgow during his stay in Scotland on September 16 and 17.
Confirming his visit to Scottish Bishops visiting the Vatican, the Pope stressed the importance of ecumenical dialogue.
“The Church in your country, like many in Northern Europe, has suffered the tragedy of division,” he said.
“It is sobering to recall the great rupture with Scotland’s Catholic past that occurred four hundred and fifty years ago. I give thanks to God for the progress that has been made in healing the wounds that were the legacy of that period, especially the sectarianism that has continued to rear its head even in recent times.
“Through your participation in Action of Churches Together in Scotland, see that the work of rebuilding unity among the followers of Christ is carried forward with constancy and commitment. While resisting any pressure to dilute the Christian message, set your sights on the goal of full, visible unity, for nothing less can respond to the will of Christ.”
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, told the Pontiff: “For many reasons this period in history may be seen as a challenging time on the journey of Christian unity. Nonetheless we are committed to the ecumenical dimension of the life of the Catholic Church in Scotland, not least through our membership of the ecumenical instrument known as Action of Churches Together in Scotland, or simply as ACTS.
“Later this year we will share in the centenary celebrations of the Edinburgh Missionary Congress of 1910 which is regarded as the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement. This year also marks the 450th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. The Reformers insisted upon the primacy of the Sacred Scriptures. It is more important now than ever that Christians allow themselves to be renewed by the Word of God as indispensable for the unity of the Church.
“Ecumenical engagement must also extend to ensuring that the Christian tradition of faith and morals is articulated, promoted and defended.”