Birmingham: Pope Benedict XVI beatified
Cardinal John Henry Newman at an open-air Mass on Sunday and
marked the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain with a
personal reflection on the evil of the Nazi regime, praising
those who "courageously" resisted it.
It was the second time in his four-day state visit to
Britain that the German-born Benedict had made reference to
the Blitz, the attack on the British mainland by Nazi bombers
and fighters during World War II, the anniversary of which is
being commemorated in these days.
Newman, a 19th century convert from Anglicanism, was
enormously influential in both the Anglican and Catholic
churches. Today's beatification moved the former Anglican
cleric a step closer to possible sainthood in the spiritual
highlight of the pontiff's trip.
The pope spoke to British people near Coventry,
which suffered a major bombardment in November 1940.
"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," Benedict told the
crowd in his homily.
"Seventy years later, we recall with shame and
horror the dreadful toll of death and destruction that war
brings in its wake, and we renew our resolve to work for peace
and reconciliation wherever the threat of conflict looms."
Benedict himself was forced to join the Hitler
Youth and then served in the army before deserting near the
end of the war.
Benedict has spoken out before about the evil of the
Nazi regime. But not even at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in
Poland, nor at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, did he
refer to his personal experience as a German who lived through
Police, meanwhile, released six men who were arrested
on suspicion of plotting an attack against the pope. The men
were freed without being charged late Saturday and early
Sunday. Police said searches of eight homes in north and east
London and two businesses in central London had not uncovered
any weapons or suspicious material. On Friday, Benedict's
visit had been overshadowed by the arrests.
Newman gave up a brilliant academic career at
Oxford University and the pulpit of the university church to
convert to Catholicism in 1845, convinced that the truth that
he had been searching for could no longer be found in the
Church of England. The decision caused pain at a personal and
institutional level, in that he lost friends and Anglicans
lost one of their brightest stars.
First Published: Sunday, September 19, 2010, 18:34