Pope Continues Visit to the UK
“I think about the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the church and by the ministers,” pope said during mass at Westminster Cathedral. After apologizing for this “unspeakable crimes,” the pope expressed his hope that Christ’s grace would bring healing to those who were victims of these acts.
He spoke of the shame these sins were bringing to the church and to the entire Christian community; the chastisement, the pope hopes, of these acts will bring consolation to those in pain, which had to suffer the abuses.
Conversely, the members of Survivor Network of the Abused by Priests were asking why doesn’t the pope take any real action against these abuses if he feels so deeply about them. Innocent children abused need predator priests removed, wounded victims need corrupted bishops exposed, he said.
The Mass at the Westminster Cathedral came in the second day to London, and third to the United Kingdom. People lined in front of the mother of Catholic English and Wales. 2,500 children gathered in the plazza were greeted by the pope, which was expected to visit a care home, too.
Thousand of people were expected to attend in the Hyde Park of London a prayer vigil for the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman.
However, the papal visit did not go without incidents. Atheists, clerical sexual abuse survivors and gay rights defenders protested in London against the presence of the pope in the kingdom, and especially against the costs of this state visit.
Six people were detained on charges of terrorist activities, but the Metropolitan police declined to say whether their charges were directly connected to the visit of the pope. Five of them are street cleaners and were arrested for commission, preparation or instigation to terrorist acts. They seem to be of Algerian descent and illegal in the country. They were detained under the Terrorist Act 2000, which allows police to hold them for 28 days.
This isolated incident did not alter the pope’s plan, which was very rich in symbolism and history. He met Archbishop Rowan Williams at his residence, in the first visit ever of a pope there.
Benedict spoke then to members of the British Parliament at Westminster Hall, which is the oldest building in the parliamentary complex, dating back to 1097. In 1535, Thomas Moore was convicted there for refusing to acknowledge the annulment of the marriage of King Henry VIII to the queen Catherine of Aragon, and the assuming of the leadership of the Anglican Church by the same monarch.
On this occasion the pope pleaded for the co-existence of faith and reason, and advised that faith should be a contributor to the national dialogue.
At Westminster Abbey, the pope prayed alongside the bishop of Canterbury by the tomb of Edward the Confessor, the English king who built the abbey.11