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Papal Visit 2010 live blog: Westminster Cathedral

Pope Benedict XVI spent 20 minutes with David Cameron before the Mass this morning (PA photo)

Welcome to our live blog of the Pope’s events in central London on Saturday, 18 September 2010. We’ll be providing links to the most interesting content from around the web and providing up-to-the-minute coverage of what’s happening. Don’t forget to send us your own pictures, stories and video!

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Recap: Central London
Recap: Twickenham live blog
Recap: Bellahouston live blog
Recap: Edinburgh live blog
Itinerary for the trip
Full Papal Visit 2010 coverage

13:00 Even the fiercest liturgical perfectionists found the Mass in Westminster magnificent.

Damian Thompsontweeted:

Magnificent liturgy – well done, Westminster Cathedral!

12:35 Some pictures here:

12:30 From Rachel Obordo on Twitter.

Pilgrims now processing down to hyde park. A lot of banter and buzzing #papalvisit

12:23 Pope Benedict:

“Through the ages the Welsh people have been distinguished for their devotion to the Mother of God; this is evidenced by the innumberable places in Wales called “Llanfair” — Mary’s Church. As I prepare to light the candle held by Our Lady, I pray that she will continue to intercede with her Son for all the men and women of Wales. May the light of Christ continue to guide their steps and shape the life and culture of the nation.”

12:20Pope Benedict replies:

“Saint David was one of the great saints of the sixth century, that golden age of saints and missionaries in these isles, and he was thus a founder of the Christian culture which lies at the root of modern Europe.”

12:16 Welsh Catholics have given Pope Benedict an ancient book, one of the first to be produced on Welsh soil.

12:15 Bishop Edwin Regan of Wrexham said his pleasure in Benedict’s visit was tempered by the fact that the Pope was not visiting Wales (it drew laughs, from the Holy Father).

12:11 The Magnificat– the Canticle of Mary — is being recited in front of the statue which was carved in 1952 by order of the bishop and was cast in bronze in 1986.

12:10 My colleague Mark Greaves tells me that every gold tessera was put on individually so that they would be uneven and sparkle more. The mosaic was specially commissioned for the Pope’s visit and represents the Welsh part of the papal visit. He is also about to bless a statue of Our Lady of the Taper, a statue of Virgin with Child.

12:06 Pope Benedict is about to bless the mosaic of St David with water from St Non’s Well, a Pembrokeshire shrine from the early Middle Ages.

12:05 Paschal Uche, who spoke to the Holy Father before.

“Since the day I was asked a large part of my life, attention and focus has been directed towards this in one way or another. I would like to see myself as just another run of the mill Catholic young person on this great journey of life, but I cannot deny that this humbling opportunity has made me more aware that God picks the ordinary to do some quite spectacular things.”

12:00 The Holy Father has been taking up the theme for the papal visit, “Heart speaks to Heart” and calls on the young people to be ready to give and receive love.

Think of all the love that your heart was made to receive, and all the love it is meant to give. After all, we were made for love. This is what the Bible means when it says that we are made in the image and likeliness of God: we were made to know the God of love, the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to find our supreme fulfilment in that divine love that knows no beginning or end.

We were made to receive love, and we have. Every day we should thank God for the love we have already known, for the love that has made us who we are, the love that has shown us what is truly important in life. We need to thank the Lord for the love we have received from our families, our friends, our teachers, and all those people in our lives who have helped us to realise how precious we are, in their eyes and in the eyes of God.

We were also made to give love, to make it the inspiration for all we do and the most enduring thing in our lives. At times this seems so natural, especially when we feel the exhilaration of love, when our hearts brim over with generosity, idealism, the desire to help others, to build a better world. But at other times we realise that it is difficult to love; our hearts can easily be hardened by selfishness, envy and pride. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the great Missionary of Charity, reminded us that giving love, pure and generous love, is the fruit of a daily decision. Every day we have to choose to love, and this requires help, the help that comes from Christ, from prayer and from the wisdom found in his word, and from the grace which he bestow on us in the sacraments of his Church.

11:59 The young people have asked the Pope to bless a candle in a stand from the diocese of Brentwood. They have a great youth group lead by Fr Dominic Howarth.

11:56 Pope Benedict has left the Cathedral and is meeting the young people of England and Wales, who greeted him with a huge cheer. 2,500 young people from parishes across Britain.

11:55 A photograph from this morning’s meetings with Britain’s political leaders. Here Pope Benedict XVI meets Harriet Harman, acting leader of the Opposition.

11:53 Pope greeting Eastern Rite or Eastern Orthodox clergy who have taken part in the Mass in choir-dress and Dr Williams in Anglican choir dress.

11:50 Processional Hymn, by Charles Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, Love Divine all Love Excelling.

11:45 Pope Benedict used the big episcopal blessing at the end; Blessed be the name of the Lord. Who made heaven and earth.

11:44 Ringing post-Communion silence. Amazing that so many people can be so quiet and prayerful.

11:40 Now, the post-Communion hymn “O Bread of Heaven beneath this veil” the words are by St Alphonsus Liguri, not to be confused with Guide me Oh Thou Great Redeemer, the chorus of which goes “O Bread of Heaven”.

11:36 Pilgrims in the piazza, mainly young people who will meet the Pope after Mass, are being administered Communion outside. The priests have umbrellas which Rachel Obordo has described on Twitter as ombrellinos.

11:35 The Holy Father is giving out Communion to chosen pupils from the Westminster Cathedral Choir school. They receive kneeling. The choir is singing O Sacrum Convivium, by 16th Century composer Hans Leo Hassler.

Pope Benedict’s pallium, the loop of wool he wears around his neck and the symbol of papal jurisdiction, feature red crosses, three of which pierced with pins, symbolising Christ’s wounds and the nails which pierced him.

11:27 The Lord’s Prayer in Latin.

11:25 At the altar with Pope Benedict are Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien (Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews), Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (the Vatican Secretary of State) Mgr Guido Marini acting as MC. And now for the Doxology and the great Amen.

11:20 Now for the Epiklesis, the part of the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ.

The first part originates in Isaiah 6:3 – Is 6 begins with Isaiah seeing a vision of the heavenly host around God’s throne, and in the aforementioned verse is their song, which is said to be “holy, holy, holy is Yahweh Sabaoth. His glory fills the whole earth” (translation from the New Jerusalem Bible).

The second part (“Blessed”, etc – comes from Matthew 2:19: Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, during which the crowds shout “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heavens!”

11:12 The Holy Father sang the preface in Latin and now the choir is singing the Sanctus, the hymn which closes the preface of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The first part originates in Isaiah 6:3 – Is 6 begins with Isaiah seeing a vision of the heavenly host around God’s throne, and in the aforementioned verse is their song, which is said to be “holy, holy, holy is Yahweh Sabaoth. His glory fills the whole earth” (translation from the New Jerusalem Bible).

The second part (“Blessed”, etc) comes from Matthew 2:19: Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, during which the crowds shout “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heavens!”

The Pope is using Eucharistic Prayer one, the Roman canon which is used in the Tridentine Mass.

11:06Now the Pope is censing the gifts and now he is censing the altar, where the sacrifice of the Mass takes place. Then clergy and laity will also be censed as they too take part in the sacrifice at the altar. It is also the sign for the congregation to rise.

11:00 At the Offertory, Pope blesses those who have brought the gifts. Sister Clement, who was one of the sisters who kept house for Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor was among them.

10:55 And now for the Nicene Creed in Latin….

10:52 He prays for the laity to grow in its vocation while emphasising the place for priests.

For the more the lay apostolate grows, the more urgently the need for priests is felt; and the more the laity’s own sense of vocation is deepened, the more what is proper to the priest stands out. May many young men in this land find the strength to answer the Master’s call to the ministerial priesthood, devoting their lives, their energy and their talents to God, thus building up his people in unity and fidelity to the Gospel, especially through th celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

10:50 The Pope reiterates the Second Vatican Council’s call to the laitity. He urges lay people to give their witness in the baptismal sharing of Christ’s mission.

Our Lord’s hands, extended on the Cross, also invite us to contemplate our participation in his eternal priesthood and thus our responsibility, as members of his body, to bring the reconciling power of his sacrifice to the world in which we live. The Second Vatican Council spoke eloquently of the indispensable role of the laity in carrying forward the Church’s mission through their efforts to serve as a leaven of the Gospel in society and to work for the advancement of God’s kingdom in the world. The Council’s appeal to the lay faithful to take up their baptismal sharing in Christ’s mission echoed the insights and teachings of John Henry Newman. May the profound ideas of this great Englishman continue to inspire all Christ’s followers in this land to conform their ever thought, word and action to Christ, and to work strenuously to defend those unchanging moral truths which, taken up, illuminated and confirmed by the Gospel, stand atthe foundation of a truly humane, just and free society.

How much contemporary society needs this witness! How much we need, in the Church and in society, witnesses of the beauty of holiness, witnesses of the splendour of truth, witnesses of the joy and freedom born of a living relationship with Christ! One of the greatest challenges facing us today is how to speak convincingly of the wisdom and liberating power of God’s word to a world which all too often sees the Gospel as a constriction of human freedom, instead of the truth which liberates our minds and enlightens ourefforts to live wisely and well, both as individuals and as members of society.

10:47 The Holy Father is speaking strongly about clerical abuse in Westminster Cathedral.

Here too I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the Church and by her ministers. Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ’s grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives. I also acknowledge with you the shame and humiliation which all of us have suffered because of these sins; and I invite you to offer it to the Lord with trust that this chastisement will contribute to the healing of victims, the purification of the Church and the renewal of her age-old commitment to the education and care of young people. I express my gratitude for the efforts being made to address this problem responsibly, and I ask all of you to show your concern for the victims and solidarity with your priests.

10:45 He draws on the martyrdom and the Precious Blood, in terms of the martyrs and suffering. He extends his thoughts to the sick, the elderly, the handicapped and those who suffer mentalllly and spiritually.

We see this aspect of the mystery of Christ’s precious blood represented, most eloquently, by the martyrs of every age, who drank from the cup which Christ himself drank, and whose own blood, shed in union with his sacrifice,gives new life to the Church. It is also reflected in our brothers and sisters throughout the world who even now are suffering discrimination and persecution for their Christian faith. Yet it is also present, often hidden in the suffering of all those individual Christians who daily unite their sacrifices to those of the Lord for the sanctification of the Church and the redemption of the world. My thoughts go in a special way to all those who are spiritually united with this Eucharistic celebration, and in particular the sick, the elderly, the handicapped and those who suffer mentally and spiritually.

10:43Pope Benedict speaks about the reality of the Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Cross and Catholic practice in England.

The reality of the Eucharistic sacrifice has always been at the heart of Catholic faith; called into question in the 16th century, it was solemnly reaffirmed at the Council of Trent against the backdrop of our justification in Christ. Here in England, as we know, there were many who staunchly defended the Mass, often at great cost, giving rise to that devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist which has been the hallmark of Catholicism in these lands.
10:35 Pope Benedict XVI blessed the congregation with the Book of Gospels and he is now giving his homily. He is speaking about the crucifix which hangs over the nave.

The Lord’s outstretched arms seem to embrace this entire church, lifting up to the Father all the ranks of the faithful who gather around the altar of the Eucharistic sacrifice and share in its fruits. The crucified Lord stands above and before us as the source of our life and salvation, “the high priest of the good things to come”, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews calls him in today’s first reading.

10:35Both outside and inside the Cathedral people are on their feet for the Gospel, John 12:18-19, 22-24.

10:31 The Epistle was read by the Head Master of the Westminster Cathedral Choir School Neil Mclaughlan, from the Letter to the Hebrews 9:11-15

For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

10:30 From the piazza, we have a tweet from Rachel Obordo Bordeaux8

Beautifully sung gloria. Absolute stillness in piazza

10:25 The Cathedral looks pretty awesome, especially with all the priests vested in red in the front of the nave and the Holy Father in the Sanctuary. The priests will be concelebrating with Pope Benedict. The colour red is usually used for vestments on feasts celebrating martyrs or instances specifically relating to Christ’s death.

10:20 Pope Benedict XVI led the faithful in the Act of Contrition and now the Cathedral Choir is singing the Kyrie and the Gloria from William Byrd’s Mass for five voices. The liturgy here is very typical of liturgies of the Cathedral, incorporating both Latin and English, modern classical with older choral music. Archbishop Vincent Nichols started using the High Altar again for his Installation. They have moved it forward slightly for the Pope’s visit, so that he can walk around the whole alter and cense it.

10:18Archbishop Nichols:

Please lead us to the Lord in Word and Sacrament. That he may strengthen and renew us.

10:15The Holy Father has just sat down and Archbishop Nichols is addressing him.

After the astonishing events of yesterday, you are most welcome. I know I speak for everyone in this great congregation, drawn from every diocese in this country…

Holy Father we offer you our love and prayers to help sustain you in your ministry as the Successor of Peter.

…Being a sign and a servant of the unity of the whole church. Standing in the shoes of the fisherman is demanding…

10:07 Bishops processing in with Holy Father. According to BBC the music is James MacMillan’s Tu es Petrus, specially composed for the papal visit.

It refers to Matthew 16:18: “Et ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversum eam.”

10:00 On Twitter, UKCatholics quotes Mgr Mark Langham about the use of Latin in the Mass:

Latin symbolises universal nature of the Mass in space and time and adds to its otherworldliness

09:40 Today the Pope is celebrating a votive Mass for the Most Precious Blood at Westminster Cathedral. A votive Mass is a Mass which does not follow the Divine Office for that day. Westminster Cathedral was dedicated to the Most Precious Blood and built between between 1895 and 1903 in Byzantine style, with a heavy emphasis on mosaic work. It is the mother Church for Catholics in England and Wales.

09:35 In the Cathedral they’ve been praying a big litany while waiting for the Pope who has just arrived, he is vesting now. The congregation is praying the prayer for the Pope.

09:25 So far so good, on the third day of the Pope’s visit to Britain. While crowds throng in the Piazza at Westminster Cathedral and the faithful are getting themselves ready for Mass, Pope Benedict is holding meetings with Prime Minister David Cameron, the Deputy Prime Minister Nicolas Clegg and Harriet Harman, the acting leader of the Opposition.

The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail gave Benedict XVI two thumbs up in their leaders this morning. The Telegraph praised the Pope for defending Christianity against militant secularism while the Mail hoped his “extraordinary candour” would spark debate.

But the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee (who will be covering today’s Mass) was not so sure. She felt the Pope should have spent less time giving a theological speech on the need for religion in the public sphere and more time blasting the rich.

One choice quote from her piece:

St Thomas More, whose trial was held in the Westminster hall before his martrydom, is a more difficult Catholic icon, for St Thomas martyred a good many protestant heretics before succumbing to the same terrible fate himself. Those cruelties echoing in Westminster Hall were a silent rebuff to Pope Benedict’s curiously ahistorical assertion made again on this visit, that atheism is to blame for the Nazi and Communist horrors of the 20th century, as if belief in God were any protection against monstrous human tyrannies.