Pope Benedict XVI expresses thanks to U.K.
Pope Benedict XVI thanked recently the British people prior to his departure from the U.K., even as he said he hoped that his four-day visit would fortify excellent ties between the U.K. and the Holy See.
In his speech, Benedict fondly recalled the events of his visit, and thanked the people of the U.K. for being hospitable and welcoming throughout his stay, according to the Catholic News Agency.
Benedict also thanked “Her Majesty The Queen…and other political leaders,” and said he was honored to address Parliament. “I sincerely hope that these occasions will contribute to confirming and strengthening the excellent relations between the Holy See and the United Kingdom, especially in cooperation for international development, in care for the natural environment, and in the building of a civil society with a renewed sense of shared values and common purpose,” the Catholic News Agency reported.
Benedict also thanked the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the Bishops of the Church of England, citing their shared traditions and culture; and representatives of different faiths in the U.K., for having shared thoughts concerning how religions can help in “the development of a healthy pluralistic society,” according to the Catholic News Agency.
To the Catholics of Britain, Benedict said he treasured celebrating the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, whose teachings, he said, are relevant to Christian living and witness in today’s world, the Catholic News Agency said.
The sizeable turnout for Benedict was in large part because U.K. Catholics came to pay their respect for the pontiff and to their Catholic tradition, and to indicate respect for the part the papacy has played in sustaining Catholicism over the past 2,000 years—even as they may not always agree with the pope, The New York Times reported.
However, a large number of people of different faiths also came to witness an historical time, the first state visit by a pope since the time of King Henry VIII, and to hear a different message that questioned today’s focus on consumerism and celebrity, The Telegraph said.
Notably, few protestors came compared to the sizeable crowds drawn by the pope. The turnout for the “Nope to Pope” rally slated last Saturday in London was described as a “damp squib” versus the 50,000 in Hyde Park who joined in the papal prayer vigil, The Telegraph reported.
Benedict focused on rekindling dialogue, and demanded that religion be allowed public expression, including the public celebration of Christmas, a message that rang well in a country where 72 per cent polled described themselves as Christian, and 75 per cent in a 2008 poll said the economic crisis led them to become more spiritual, The Telegraph said.
The Telegraph said a victory from the pope’s visit was seen in forwarding the newly beatified John Henry Newman as an example for furthering discussions that call for crossing both reason and faith.
Notably, too, was the fact that of late, a group from the Church of England who disagree with the ordination of women clergy are being offered accelerated entry to Catholicism with a special exemption from rules of celibacy. Benedict’s visit is seen as likely to encourage more conversions to Catholicism from this group, The Telegraph reported.