Yes, it seems that perhaps we have learnt some lessons from the last forty years, and there really is a new spirit abroad.
Perhaps this is partly because in the wake of all the recent opposition to our faith we have a greater sense of who we are and what is important to us. How forcibly those words of St Paul struck me today:
As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,5beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8through honour and dishonour, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed;10as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. (2Cor 6)
The Holy Father's homily, too, was both moving and inspiring, and will irritate many a secularist, no doubt.
The evangelization of culture is all the more important in our times, when a “dictatorship of relativism” threatens to obscure the unchanging truth about man’s nature, his destiny and his ultimate good. There are some who now seek to exclude religious belief from public discourse, to privatize it or even to paint it as a threat to equality and liberty. Yet religion is in fact a guarantee of authentic liberty and respect, leading us to look upon every person as a brother or sister.
Let nobody now doubt that the Catholic Church on this island is still alive and can be given a very much better prognosis than I might have given it a few years ago.
And now, I must offer heartfelt congratulations to Cardinal O'Brien and the Scottish hierarchy for an impeccably organized day. I can only pray that the English and Welsh hierarchy will prove to have done as well.
And, incidentally, does His Eminence have shares in a certain tartan weaving firm, by any chance?