Pope Benedict XVI has hailed his trip to Britain as marking a “new and important phase in the long-standing relations between the Holy See and Great Britain”.
The Pope, speaking to a crowded audience in St Peter’s Square in Rome, began by conveying “affectionate greetings to all those I met and those who contributed to the visit through the media during four days”.
He described his speech to parliamentarians in Westminster Hall as an “unprecedented opportunity” to address the “importance of a fruitful dialogue between religion and reason”. He said it was “a theme as relevant in the time of St Thomas More as it is in our own day”.
On the ecumenical service with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, the Pope gave thanks for “the many blessings God has bestowed upon our efforts to re-knit the fabric of our Christian fellowship”.
The Pope also expressed his wish to “thank and encourage those charged with the safeguarding of children in Britain”.
He said the beatification of Cardinal Newman on Sunday was a “moment of deep personal satisfaction”. The Pope related how Newman, whose “life and writings I have admired for many years”, was “an example that can inspire us all”.