Saturday, 17 September 2011

Compare and contrast

On 17th September 2010 - though it was the Friday and not a Saturday as it is this year - Pope Benedict XVI spoke to a gathering of representatives of public life in Westminster Hall, a gathering that included politicians and representatives of the diplomatic world, the world of commerce, the media, and other areas of public life. This is the occasion during the Papal visit to which I have returned more often than any other. It is certainly the address (text here) to which I have more often referred on this blog than any other of the Papal visit (though I now suspect that the re-organisation of the Papal Visit web site to mark the first anniversary has broken all the links!).

It was significant because it took place amidst a certain hostility towards Pope Benedict's visit. I remember thinking as I watched the event on the live webcast that this was what represented the real welcome being given to Pope Benedict, and not the protests. It was a uniquely generous parliamentary occasion.

I was particularly moved by the way in which Pope Benedict's audience applauded, and kept applauding, at the end of his address to them. There was a real warmth to the idea of this audience applauding Pope Benedict as he moved down the whole length of Westminster Hall.

Compare and contrast.

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