Friday, September 17, 2010

A gathering of history... the magnificent setting of Westminster Hall,at the very heart of Parliament, with centuries of tradition echoing beneath its great hammer-beam roof and its Norman arches. Here, with the Archbishop of Canterbury by his side, a great array of Members of Parliament, several former Prime Ministers, and representatives of every aspect of public life in Britain, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address, touching on the moral realities that lie beneath the great issues of our day.

It was an unforgettable priviledge to be there. Beautiful gilt chairs had been set in rows, the Band of the Coldstream Guards played, and there was a sense of great and almost reverent expectancy. In the last moments before the Pope arrived, there was an absolute and extraordinary silence - it was as if we were in church.

The Pope spoke quietly, and has a gentle, academic style. He was vigorous in his warmth and praise for Britain's tradition of Parliamentary democracy, seeing this as a great achievement and a gift to the wider world. He emphasised that this was grounded in a culture of faith, and that faith and reason work together and complement one another. Attempts to marginalise faith, and in particular Christianity, will do grave harm to the common good, and to the liberty achieved through the great Westminster tradition.

It was a wonderful occasion - something glorious and magnificent in our history. A great sense of joy and goodwill.

I will remember this day as long as I live.


Joe said...

I watched this live on the webcast, and found it a most wonderful occasion. To describe it as "beautiful", in the most full and rich sense of the word "beautiful", is the only word I could think of to describe it.

And the way Pope Benedict was applauded was so warm and welcoming, especially as you all applauded him for the full length of the Hall as he was leaving.

Belt63 said...

Keep the updates coming! I'm catching some of the Holy Father's travels via EWTN, but I love reading your commentary ...