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Pope tells of fear for Christianity

Published 17/09/2010

The Pope attends St Mary's University College Chapel in Twickenham
The Pope attends St Mary's University College Chapel in Twickenham
Pope Benedict is greeted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace
The Archbishop of Canterbury watches as the Pope kisses the Canterbury Gospels at Westminster Abbey
The Reverend Ian Paisley joined a protest in Edinburgh against the visit of Pope Benedict XVI
A demonstrator in Edinburgh as Pope Benedict XVI begins his first papal state visit to the UK
Joseph O'Driscoll originally from Dublin protests with a placard along Lothian Road, Edinburgh ahead of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI who arrived in the city earlier in the day for a four day visit to the United Kingdom
Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Benedict XVI pass Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond (left) as they walk through the gardens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
The Reverend Ian Paisley (right) joins a protest in Edinburgh against the visit of Pope Benedict XVI who arrived in the city earlier in the day for a four day visit to the United Kingdom
Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Benedict XVI walk through the gardens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh listen as Pope Benedict XVI addresses a crowd in the gardens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Benedict XVI meet school children outside the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland, on September 16, 2010 in Edinburgh
Pilgrims gather before the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI for the Papal Mass at Bellahouston Park on September 16, 2010 in Glasgow, Scotland
Pilgrims gather ahead of the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI for the Papal Mass at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow
Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Benedict XVI meet school children outside the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland
The Reverend Ian Paisley joins a protest in Edinburgh against the visit of Pope Benedict XVI who arrived in the city earlier in the day for a four day visit to the United Kingdom
Pope Benedict XVI rides in the Popemobile down Edinburgh's Princes Street on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
Pope Benedict XVI rides in the Popemobile down Edinburgh's Princes Street on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
Pope Benedict XVI rides in the Popemobile down Edinburgh's Princes Street on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
The Reverend Ian Paisley joins a protest in Edinburgh against the visit of Pope Benedict XVI who arrived in the city earlier in the day for a four day visit to the United Kingdom
The Reverend Ian Paisley speaks to the press outside the Magdalen Chapel, Edinburgh, after protesting against the visit of Pope Benedict XVI who arrived in the city earlier in the day for a four day visit to the United Kingdom
The Reverend Ian Paisley speaks to the press outside the Magdalen Chapel, Edinburgh, after protesting against the visit of Pope Benedict XVI who arrived in the city earlier in the day for a four day visit to the United Kingdom
Pope Benedict XVI rides in the Popemobile down Edinburgh's Princes Street on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
Pope Benedict XVI rides in the Popemobile down Edinburgh's Princes Street on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
Pope Benedict XVI rides in the Popemobile down Edinburgh's Princes Street on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
Pope Benedict XVI replaces his zucchetto after the British national anthem is played during his meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
Members of the public in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park ahead of an open-air mass by Pope Benedict XVI, as he begins the first papal state visit to the UK
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh talk with Pope Benedict XVI during an audience in the Morning Drawing Room at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh walk with Pope Benedict XVI to the Morning Drawing Room in the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II exchanges gifts with Pope Benedict XVI during an audience in the Morning Drawing Room at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh
Queen Elizabeth II greets Pope Benedict XVI at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
Queen Elizabeth II meets Pope Benedict XVI as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (left) and First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond (right) watch on at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
Pope Benedict XVI replaces his zucchetto as he meets with Queen Elizabeth II at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
Pope Benedict XVI replaces his zucchetto as he meets with Queen Elizabeth II at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on the first day of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
Pope Benedict XVI is met by the Duke of Edinburgh as he arrives in Scotland to begin the first papal state visit to the UK
Pope Benedict XVI is met by the Duke of Edinburgh as he arrives in Edinburgh, Scotland, to begin the first papal state visit to the UK
Pope Benedict XVI is met by the Duke of Edinburgh (left) as he arrives in Edinburgh, Scotland, to begin the first papal state visit to the UK
A close up view of the shoes worn by Pope Benedict XVI as he arrives in Scotland to begin the first papal state visit to the UK
Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Edinburgh, Scotland, to begin the first papal state visit to the UK
Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Edinburgh, Scotland, to begin the first papal state visit to the UK
The altar at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, where Pope Benedict XVI will preside over an open-air mass on the first day of his four-day visit to the United Kingdom
Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Scotland to begin the first papal state visit to the UK
Merchandise commemorating the State Papal visit at grounds of Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, ahead of a mass by Pope Benedict
Flag sellers in Edinburgh ahead of the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in, where he will begin the first papal state visit to the UK
The altar at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, where Pope Benedict XVI will preside over an open-air mass on the first day of his four-day visit to the United Kingdom
Preparations continue at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, where Pope Benedict XVI will preside over an open-air mass on the first day of his four-day visit to the United Kingdom
Preparations continue at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, where Pope Benedict XVI will preside over an open-air mass on the first day of his four-day visit to the United Kingdom
A member of the public wearing a kilt and holding a bag commemorating the State Papal visit at grounds of Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, ahead of a mass by Pope Benedict
The grounds of Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, ahead a mass by Pope Benedict
An advert on a billboard by the Good Without God organization in Glasgow ahead of a visit by Pope Benedict
Merchandise commemorating the State Papal visit at grounds of Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, ahead of a mass by Pope Benedict
Members of the public await the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he will begin the first papal state visit to the UK
Staff at Edinburgh Airport prepare the red carpet for Pope Benedict XVI ahead of his arrival there at the start of his four day visit to the United Kingdom
The papal chair at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, where Pope Benedict XVI will preside over an open-air mass on the first day of his four-day visit to the United Kingdom

The Pope has expressed fears for Christianity's future as a string of historic visits went ahead despite six arrests over an alleged plot against him.

Benedict XVI warned of the faith's "increasing marginalisation" on a day which saw him make first visits by a pontiff to Lambeth Palace and Westminster Abbey.

As crowds of supporters and thousands of protesters crammed the streets of Westminster to catch a glimpse of the religious leader, he repeatedly argued religion should be recognised for its "vital" contribution to the nation. He told MPs, peers and religious leaders in Westminster Hall that there were "worrying signs" of a failure to appreciate the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and the "legitimate" role of religion in public life - and said a moral failure was to blame for the global financial crisis.

His comments came after a security scare surrounding his arrival in London. The Pope was informed of six arrests in connection with a suspected plot against him but remained "totally calm", his spokesman said.

On a number of occasions during the Popemobile's journeys through Westminster, he blessed babies which were taken from the crowd by security officers. But while some chanted "Benedict, we love you", critics booed and jeered.

He ended his tour at Westminster Abbey where he publicly shook hands with a clergywoman, the Rev Dr Jane Hedges, for the first time.

During his address at the Abbey service, which he led alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the Pope spoke of the need for Christians to talk about their faith even though society had become "increasingly indifferent or even hostile".

It was one of numerous references to society's move away from Christian heritage. In his speech at Westminster Hall, where audience members included former prime ministers Baroness Thatcher, Sir John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the Pope said: "There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue - paradoxically, with the intention of eliminating discrimination - that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience."

The Pontiff had earlier been warmly greeted by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace. The Archbishop told the Pope: "You are here for another historic meeting and you are most welcome."

The Pope began the day with a reference to the child abuse scandal, saying schools must provide a "safe environment" for children. Speaking at the Chapel of St Mary's University College in Twickenham, south-west London, he said: "I wish to add a particular word of appreciation for those whose task it is to ensure that our schools provide a safe environment for children and young people. Our responsibility towards those entrusted to us for their Christian formation demands nothing less."

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