By Hilary White

ROME, September 16, 2010 ( – On the first day of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain he has not held back from the great themes of his pontificate – the threat of the “dictatorship of relativism” and suppression of religious freedom by secularist governments.

In his address to Queen Elizabeth II, Benedict was pointed in his condemnation of the “atheist extremism” that led to the Nazi atrocities. In remarks that are clearly intended to answer the accusations of Britain’s radical secularists, he identified the country’s long history of human rights and justice with its thousand years of devotion to Christianity.

In his homily, at the outdoor Mass at Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park, in brilliant sunshine, Benedict mentioned the danger of our times, “when a dictatorship of relativism threatens to obscure the unchanging truth about man’s nature, destiny and ultimate good.”

He said the need for evangelization is pressing. “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.”

He appealed to the young people of Scotland not to be seduced by money, sex, drugs and pornography, saying they bring only unhappiness.

Despite dour media predictions, turnout has been tremendous for the visit so far. Glasgow police have confirmed that at least 100,000 people lined the streets to welcome Benedict. Parades with Scottish pipe bands in full regalia marked the occasion while the pope met with Queen Elizabeth.

In his address to the queen, Benedict made only an oblique mention of the anti-Catholic media furors that preceded the visit, asking the British media to operate by the values of Cardinal Newman, and, with their wide audience to act with respect, honesty and fair-mindedness.

Benedict mentioned the historical legacy of the great Christian monarchs of England and Scotland, recalling that “the Christian message has been an integral part of the language, thought and culture of the peoples of these islands for more than a thousand years.”

In a message clearly in answer to those, like his detractors in the National Secular Society, who are working to expunge Christianity from the public sphere in the name of “pluralism,” Benedict added, “Your forefathers’ respect for truth and justice, for mercy and charity come to you from a faith that remains a mighty force for good in your kingdom, to the great benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike.”

Benedict went even further, mentioning the efforts of Britain to stand up to “atheist extremism” that manifested itself in the “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.”

He recalled the Nazi regime’s “attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives.”

“As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth 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 to a ‘reductive vision of the person and his destiny.'”

To see the full homily at Bellahouston, click here.

To read the full address to the queen, click here.