Pope Benedict XVI. Has expressed in London his "deep regret" to victims of sexual abuse by clerics. He feels "shame and humiliation" in the face of these "indescribable crimes," the 83-year-old church leader said Saturday at a pontifical Mass in Westminster Cathedral. The consequences of the scandal should serve as a "punishment for the healing of the victims, the purification of the Church and the renewal of its age-old commitment to education and care for young people".
For the victims, he said he hopes "that the power of Christ's grace, his atoning sacrifice, may bring profound healing and peace to their lives". At the same time, the pope stressed that their suffering was caused by "the sins of a small number of priests". It remained open whether Benedict XVI. Will meet personally with abuse victims outside the official program. The mass at the seat of London Archbishop Gerard Nichols was the religious highlight of the pope's visit to the British capital.
The ceremony was attended by numerous representatives of other denominations, including the Anglican primate, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury.
The neo-Byzantine cathedral has great significance for the Catholic community's relations with the Anglican state church. Here Queen Elizabeth II., for her part head of the Anglican Church of England, in 1995 becoming the first monarch since church separation in 16. A nineteenth-century Christian participated in an ecumenical celebration at a Catholic house of worship.
Benedict XVI. placed the suffering of Christ on the cross at the center of his sermon. In the process, he paid tribute to Christians "who are suffering discrimination and persecution right now for the sake of their Christian faith". He went on to recall historical debates over sacrificial theology between the Reformation and Catholicism. In England, many had "defended the Mass steadfastly and at a high price," the pope said.
Lay people have an "indispensable role" in the Catholic Church, he stressed. He called on the faithful to work with all their strength to defend "immutable moral truths". These would be at the base of a human and just society. Church and society desperately needed "testimonies to the beauty of holiness, testimonies to the splendor of truth," the pope said. Too often, he said, the Gospel is seen as a restriction on human freedom. Instead, it is "the truth that liberates our minds" and serves both individuals and society.
Pope meets with British Prime Minister Cameron
On Saturday morning, Pope Benedict XVI was. met with British Prime Minister David Cameron for a private conversation. Following the meeting, which was scheduled to last 20 minutes at the London Archbishop's residence, the Catholic Church leader also held brief one-on-one meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Opposition Leader Harriet Harman.
Cameron had been unable to attend the pope's speech the previous evening to political, business and cultural leaders at Westminster Hall because of his father's funeral. By Queen Elizabeth II. was Benedict XVI. already received on his arrival in Edinburgh on Thursday. The four-day visit to Britain is considered a state visit.
Before the individual audiences, the government leaders and the opposition leader spoke with London Cardinal and former Archbishop Cormack Murphy-O "Connor and the acting Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Gerard Nichols, who is also president of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.
Atmospheric highlight likely to be evening prayer with tens of thousands in London's Hyde Park. (live from 7 p.m ) The World Youth Day-style event is to mark the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890). With it ends on Sunday in Birmingham the 17. Benedict XVI's trip abroad. (live from 11 am ).
Friday's papal program focused on ecumenism and interfaith relations. Benedict XVI. Opposed the displacement of religion from the public sphere and called on believers of all religious traditions to form an alliance against growing secularization.
The Pope particularly reaffirmed the will for ecumenism with the country's Christian majority, the Anglicans. In a multicultural society, cooperation between churches is "absolutely necessary," he said during a cordial meeting with Anglican Primate Rowan Williams.
The visit was overshadowed on the second day by the arrest of six terror suspects. According to British media reports, they may have planned an attack on the head of the church. The pope was briefed, according to Vatican sources, but did not express alarm. The program continued as planned.