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Pope’s visit: Spiritual climax as faithful bid farewell

Published 20/09/2010

Pope Benedict XVI arrives for an open air Mass at Cofton Park, Birmingham
Pope Benedict XVI arrives for an open air Mass at Cofton Park, Birmingham
Pope Benedict XVI addresses pilgrims who have gathered in Westmister Cathedral Piazza
Anne Widdecombe, signs autographs, before Pope Benedict XVI, arrives to greet the crowd gathered to greet him outside, following a mass at Westminster Cathedral
Pope Benedict XVI addresses pilgrims who have gathered in Westmister Cathedral Piazza
Members of the crowd gather outside Westminster Cathedral, in central London as Pope Benedict XVI, celebrates Mass
Pilgrims wait for Pope Benedict XVI at Westmister Cathedral Piazza
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and wife Cherie, during a Mass presided over by Pope Benedict XVI at Westminster Cathedral
Pope Benedict XVI attends a Mass at Westminster Cathedral
Pope Benedict XVI conducts a Mass at Westminster Cathedral
Pope Benedict XVI addresses pilgrims who have gathered in Westmister Cathedral Piazza
Police monitor the crowd outside Westminster Cathedral as Pope Benedict XVI conducts Mass
Pope Benedict XVI meets with acting Labour leader Harriet Harman at Archbishop's House, near Westminster Cathedral
Pope Benedict XVI attends a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron at Archbishop's House, near Westminster Cathedral
A young girl holds an image of Pope Benedict XVI as he celebrated Mass in Westminster Cathedral
Pope Benedict XVI greets former British Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher in Westminster Hall
Pope Benedict XVI during a Celebration of Evening Prayer, at Westminster Abbey
Former British Prime Ministers Sir John Major and Baroness Thatcher, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg await Pope Benedict XVI in Westminster Hall
Dean of Westminster John Hall (R) escorts Pope Benedict XVI (2nd R) as he arrives at Westminster Abbey
Pope Benedict XVI leaves Lambeth Palace in the 'Popemobile' for the short journey to Westminster Hall
Pope Benedict XVI meets Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace
Pope Benedict XVI leaves Westminster Hall in the 'Popemobile' in central London
Former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair (right) and Gordon Brown await the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in Westminster Hall, London
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown greets Cherie Blair as they wait for Pope Benedict XVI to arrive to give a speech at Westminster Hall, London
Pope Benedict XVI is embraced by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams during a Celebration of Evening Prayer at Westminster Abbey
Pope Benedict XVI is embraced by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams during a Celebration of Evening Prayer at Westminster Abbey
Pope Benedict XVI crosses Lambeth Bridge on his way to the Houses of Parliament after meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury
Pope Benedict XVI crosses Lambeth Bridge on his way to the Houses of Parliament after meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury
Pope Benedict XVI crosses Lambeth Bridge on his way to the Houses of Parliament after meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury
Pope Benedict XVI greets a young child as he arrives for a celebration of Catholic education at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in SW London
Pope Benedict XVI during The Big Assembly a celebration of Catholic education at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in London
Pope Benedict XVI during The Big Assembly a celebration of Catholic education at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in London
MP Peter Tatchell joins other protesters during a demonstration, as Pope Benedict XVI arrives at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in South West London
MP Peter Tatchell joins other protesters during a demonstration, as Pope Benedict XVI arrives at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in South West London
Pope Benedict XVI during The Big Assembly a celebration of Catholic education at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in London
Pope Benedict XVI during The Big Assembly a celebration of Catholic education at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in London
People look on as Pope Benedict XVI attends The Big Assembly a celebration of Catholic education at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in London
A school girl holds a decorated crucifix and a Papal flag as she watches Pope Benedict XVI at The Big Assembly gathering at St Mary's University College during day two of his four day state visit at Twickenham
Benedict XVI arrives for a celebration of Catholic education at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in London
A nun passes through a security checkpoint during preparations for Pope Benedict XVI visit to St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in south west London
Children with their cameras await the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI for his visit to St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in south west London
A nun walks past police officers during preparations for Pope Benedict XVI arrival at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in south west London
Police motorcyclists prepare for Pope Benedict XVI arrival at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in south west London
Pope Benedict XVI greets school children as he arrives at St Mary's University College at Twickenham
Signs on the pavement outside St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in south west London, before the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI travels in the back of a car as he passes protestors on his arrival at St Mary's University College during day two of his four day state visit to the United Kingdom at Twickenham
Protestors are watched by police before the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI for his visit to St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in south west London
Pope Benedict XVI during a mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow
Pope Benedict XVI during a mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow
Pope Benedict XVI arrives for the Papal Mass at Bellahouston Park on September 16, 2010 in Glasgow
Pope Benedict XVI during a mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow
Susan Boyle performs at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, ahead of an open-air mass by Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI kisses a young child as he arrives for the Papal Mass at Bellahouston Park on September 16, 2010 in Glasgow, Scotland
Baby Maria Tyszczak with her mother Marzena Tyszczak, who Pope Benedict XVI blessed, as he arrived at Glasgow's Bellahouston Park ahead of an open-air mass during the first day of a four day visit to the United Kingdom
Guests wait to greet Pope Benedict XVI in the gardens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse during day one of his four day state visit to the United Kingdom
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

They gathered in their thousands, sheltering from a steady drizzle under a forest of umbrellas and plastic ponchos.

But, when Pope Benedict XVI finally appeared in Birmingham's Cofton Park yesterday the sunlight broke through to stream down on the beatification mass of Cardinal John Henry Newman.

The service was billed as the climax to the Pope's four-day state visit — a spiritual end to a trip that has seen him apologise for the clerical abuse scandals, warn against the dangers of secularism and protest at the “marginalisation of faith” in Britain.

For the Catholic Church, it was an opportunity to wave goodbye to its leader and celebrate one of its most profound modern thinkers.

Cardinal Newman is now all but guaranteed to become the first non-martyred British saint since 1401.

Standing in front of a crowd of 55,000 worshippers, the Pope used his homily to reflect on his own past as he commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the defeat of the German Luftwaffe.

“For me, as one who lived and suffered through the dark days of the Nazi regime in Germany, it is deeply moving to be here with you on this occasion, and to recall how many of your fellow citizens sacrificed their lives courageously resisting the forces of that evil ideology,” he said.

His comments referred to the Pope's experiences during the Second World War, when he was forced to join the Hitler Youth, although he later deserted. It was the second time the pontiff had referred to Nazism during his trip.

Given the timing of the 10am Mass, most of the pilgrims were forced to travel through the night, trudging the last mile from their coaches on foot under a cold drizzle. But despite the gloom, the mood was jubilant as pilgrims prepared to bid farewell to the Pope.

Yesterday's crowd had an international flavour. At times it seemed there were almost as many Polish flags fluttering in the breeze as all the other nationalities combined.

Many worshippers said that the Pope had been treated unfairly by the media.

Niamh Moloney (24), a youth worker from Northampton, was walking through the park with a banner proclaiming: “Give it some welly for Pope in the Park.”

“We wanted to make some joyful noise because there had been so much negative coverage,” she said, adding that the thousands of young people who turned out for the Pope's Masses showed how he was still relevant to younger generations.

Belfast Telegraph

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