After an eventful first couple of days in the UK, Pope Benedict got off to a busy start this morning.
The day began with several untelevised meetings with political leaders of the UK including a meeting with England's Prime Minister, the Right Honourable David Cameron, as well as courtesy calls with Deputy Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Nick Clegg, MP and the leader of the opposition the Right honourable Harriet Harman, MP.
Following this morning's meetings, the Holy Father made his way to the Cathedral of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ
in Westminster to celebrate the Holy Mass.
In his homily, the Holy Father made explicit reference to the pain caused by the recent cases of clergy sexual abuse.
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.
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 the 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.
For a complete text of the Holy Father's homily click here
CNS photo/Luke MacGregor, Reuters