As it happened: Pope in Britain, 18 September 2010

  • The third day of Pope Benedict's visit to the UK - the first official trip by a serving pontiff since 1982 - saw him celebrate Mass at Westminster Cathedral and conduct a prayer vigil in Hyde Park
  • He offered an apology to victims of abuse by priests
  • The Pope met Prime Minister David Cameron and other senior politicians
  • A protest march took place in central London.
  • Live page reporters: Victoria King and Alex Kleiderman

0354 Scotland Yard announced overnight that the six men arrested on suspicion of plotting to attack the Pope have been released without charge. Police sources had earlier said officers thought there was "no credible threat" to the pontiff.

2115 That's it for our minute-by-minute coverage of the day's events. We'll be back in the morning to do it all over again, but if anything happens in the meantime, we'll be sure to let you know.

2112 And to find out a bit more about Cardinal John Henry Newman ahead of tomorrow's beatification service, have a look at this article by the BBC's Michael Hirst. Cardinal Newman is, he explains, credited by the Catholic Church with the miraculous healing of a man from a crippling back disease.

2103 You can see a selection of the best pictures from day three of the Pope's visit here.

2052 As day three of the Pope's visit ends, the BBC's crime correspondent Ben Ando has the latest on the men arrested in London yesterday over a possible plot to target him. Sources at Scotland Yard have told our reporter that having interviewed all six men, anti-terror detectives now believe there was "no credible threat" to the Pope's life. The men - all street cleaners - were arrested after they were overheard in their office canteen apparently plotting an attack. Police have refused to confirm reports that the men were actually joking, and say they had to investigate what may have been a genuine threat.

2048 The Pope has now arrived back at his residence in Wimbledon. The crowd gathered outside cheered as his car pulled up and once inside, papal staff opened the window for him to reach out and give a final wave goodnight. The well-wishers, eager for an encore, began a chant of "We want the Pope", but to no avail - it's time for bed.

2039 Sunday, the last day of the visit, will see what is for many its main event - the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Cofton Park, near Birmingham. The Pope is due to leave his residence in Wimbledon by helicopter at about 0845 BST. The beatification service itself is scheduled to begin at 1000 BST.

2030 The exodus from Hyde Park has begun as the singing continues on stage. Pope Benedict himself will now travel back to the Apostolic Nunciature - the residence of his representative in Britain - in Wimbledon for a well-earned rest.

2025 Madeleine, from Manchester, tweets: "Really getting blessed by the Pope's vigil in Hyde Park. His words are what our nation needs to hear." Read Madeleine's tweets

2021 Teenage Britain's Got Talent singer Liam McNally performs his solo while the Pope nips backstage to remove his liturgical vestments. He then comes back out and leaves the stage properly to rapturous applause.

2017 The BBC's John Hand says the Benediction saw many drop to their knees for the first time during the vigil. Not an easy manoeuvre for those in tightly packed areas near the front, but they did it nonetheless.

2013 The mood now becomes more joyful with the uplifting hymn, Tell out my soul. The vigil is drawing to a close and the Pope will shortly leave the stage. When the hymn finishes, spontaneous cheers and applause break out.

2008 Now comes the central event of the vigil, the Benediction, when the Blessed Sacrament, the bread, which is regarded as the body of Jesus Christ, is revered. To mark the solemnity and importance of the moment bells are struck.

1958 Cardinal John Henry Newman's prayer, Radiating Christ, is now read. "Let me preach Thee without preaching," it says, "not by words but by my example." The hymn that follows, Lead Kindly Light, was also written by him.

1953 After a period of silence for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the singing of Panis Angelicus, the Litany of the Sacred Heart is read.

1944 Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has spoken about the meeting today between the Pope and five victims of clerical sex abuse. "It was very, very discreet," he said. "They wished that practically no-one was present, only an interpreter to help the Pope to understand better. The atmosphere was of profound, touching, intense emotion, I think."

1938 Father Christopher Jamieson, director of the Catholic Church's National Office for Vocation, tells the BBC that there was a "John Paul moment" during the Pope's speech. He's referring to Pope Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, who is widely thought of as the more charismatic and crowd-pleasing pontiff. Fr Jamieson says this Pope had a twinkle in his eye and looked delighted when he was interrupted mid-flow by enthusiastic cheers.

1933 The BBC's John Hand, in the park, says it's striking how quiet the at-times-noisy congregation goes whenever the Pope speaks. Clearly they want to hear and understand every word uttered, he adds.

1929 The Pope talks about Cardinal Newman, whom he will beatify tomorrow, and of the things that all Catholics can learn from him. He also talks about those killed in centuries past for their Catholic faith and says that although believers today are not hanged, they are often "dismissed out of hand or ridiculed". We must withstand this, he adds, and believe that the "kindly light of faith" will show us the way.

1924 The Pope says this is an evening of "immense spiritual joy". He says he is especially pleased to see how many young people are present - and then has to pause as a big cheer erupts from the crowd. The Pope smiles and gives a wave in response.

1918 The Pope is to light a candle during the vigil that will then be used to light another 3,000 across the park. Those gathered will then sing Lead Kindly Light - a hymn composed by Cardinal Newman.

1912 The Pope then gets to his feet and gives an opening prayer. Afterwards comes a reading from the letter of St Paul to the Ephesians and a sung version of Psalm 119.

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1908 After putting on a red stole for the vigil, the Pope takes his seat on the stage. He is then formally welcomed by the Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith. He says people have come from all over Britain to share this historic moment and they want to assure the Pope of their love, support and prayers for him.

1902 Peter Dyson, from York, writes: "It seems to me that the Pope has done all that could be reasonably expected by way of apology."

1856 The Pope is now in Hyde Park and slowly approaching the main stage where the red throne awaits him, front and centre. As I type, another baby is plucked from the crowd for a blessing by the pontiff.

1850 "I am thrilled. I never thought I would meet the Pope - I can die tomorrow now." Those are the words of 96-year-old Mary Cryer, one of the residents at St Peter's care home in Vauxhall, who met the pontiff an hour or so ago.

1844 The BBC's John Hand, who is in Hyde Park, tells us of a moment of mass participation as the congregation is invited to stand and wave at the cameras for footage they are informed will be beamed onto the side of the United Nations building in New York. Reciting words shown on the big screen, all solemnly repeat: "We stand to say to the world's leaders: keep your promises."

1838 Rachel, from St Andrews, who is in Hyde Park, tweets: "Listening to the Priests sing as the Pope makes his way. Getting chilly but crowd still lively." Read Rachel's tweets

1833 Crowds about five deep are lining Horse Guards Road, and it is busier still along the Mall, reports the BBC's Daniel Boettcher. People who have seen the Pope from one vantage point are running along to try to get ahead of the Popemobile to catch another glimpse. The Mall itself is decked out with huge union jacks and Vatican standards.

1829 Incidentally, the number plate of the Popemobile is SCV1. The letters refer to the State City of the Vatican. The number one, well, that doesn't need any explanation.

1824 It's time for the Popemobile again. The Pope has swapped his conventional car for that famous vehicle and is now making his way along Horse Guards Road, The Mall and Constitution Hill before reaching Hyde Park Corner. Plenty of people are lining the route to see him.

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1820 Daniel French, from Salcombe, Devon, writes: "This visit has given renewed confidence to the church in the battle of ideas between Christians and secularists. It feels like a real watershed moment. Not only that, it has to be said that the 'anti-group' have let themselves down with poorly presented arguments which lack lustre and conviction."

Robert Pigott
1809 The Pope is doing very well for someone who is naturally a shy academic, and is making every effort to reach out to people on a personal level, says the BBC's religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott. He is taking every opportunity to meet ordinary members of the crowd, to bless children, and so on, because he knows it is the best way to win people over.

1800 During his visit to St Peter's, the Pope made reference to the Catholic Church's opposition to euthanasia. "Life is a unique gift, at every stage from conception until natural death, and it is God's alone to give and to take," he told those gathered there. Christians should not be afraid to "struggle with infirmity" if God wills that they should, he added.

1745 In Whitehall, the protest march speeches are continuing. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins tells the crowd: "Joseph Ratzinger is an enemy of humanity". But the BBC's Daniel Boettcher says some participants have started to drift away.

1737 Andrew from London tweets: "Got to commend the thousands of people who took to the streets to protest the Pope. Like Catholics, they're standing up for their beliefs." Read Andrew's tweets

1731 BBC Rome correspondent David Willey says the Pope is clearly touched by the reception at St Peter's. He has learned to empathise and communicate much better on this visit, our correspondent adds.

1725 Back at St Peter's, the Pope presents the care home with a mosaic of St Peter, a gift it says will be "highly treasured". In his speech he says: "This work of the Church for the ageing and infirm not only provides love and care for them, but is also rewarded by God with the blessings he promises on the land where this commandment is observed." In emotional scenes, the Pope goes on to greet and bless residents and the nuns and priests who care for them.

1720 Oli from London tweets: "I have really loved all the things the Pope has been saying. Even as a non-Catholic I think he is providing important challenges to Britain. " Read Oli's tweets

1708 More details have emerged about the meeting between the Pope and abuse victims. It took place at the home of the Vatican's ambassador in Wimbledon and not in the Westminster area as first thought. A Vatican statement added: "He prayed with them and assured them that the Catholic Church is continuing to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people, and that it is doing all in its power to investigate allegations, to collaborate with civil authorities and to bring to justice clergy and religious accused of these egregious crimes."

1703 The Pope has now arrived at St Peter's care home. The BBC's Sangita Myska, who is there, says he will pray with the residents and exchange gifts. He will offer personal blessings to three residents in their rooms because they are unable to make it into the chapel. The Pope will be also accept a donation of money, collected by at least 10 Catholic residential homes, to give to missions in the UK and abroad.

1700 The Vatican says the Pope expressed his "deep sorrow and shame" in a meeting today with five victims of clerical sex abuse.

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1656 Reg Joseph, from Stafford, UK, writes: "I believe the Pope's visit has been good for the country. But he didn't go far enough to apologise for the past abuse."

1650 The BBC's Emma-Jane Kirby, who is in Wimbledon, says that according to police, when the Pope returned from his morning engagements he was too tired to talk to any of those gathered outside and instead went straight inside to rest.

1645 The Pope has left his residence in Wimbledon and is on his way to St Peter's home for the elderly in Vauxhall where he will meet residents. Just a little about the history of St Peter's. It's run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic religious order founded in France in 1839. The order first opened a home on the site in 1863, although the present building, housing about 75 people, dates from 1984. There is said to be "lovely view" of the garden and Vauxhall Park from many of the bedrooms.

1639 Speeches are now taking place in Whitehall at the anti-Pope protest rally. Terry Sanderson, from the National Secular Society, says the Pope is "the enemy of the state, the enemy of children, the enemy of gay people [and] the enemy of women". He leads the crowd in a chant of "Go home Pope!"

1633 The BBC has learned that the Pope did meet five survivors of clerical abuse earlier today. Three of the victims were from Yorkshire, one was from London and one was from Scotland, and the meeting was held in the Westminster area. Bill Kilgallon, chairman of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission, says he spoke to them beforehand and they were "understandably quite emotional". Mr Kilgallon says the victims spent between 30 and 40 minutes with the Pope - "quite a significant length of time" and "longer than the prime minister got", he adds.

1628 Organisers say about 11,000 people are taking part in anti-Pope protests in central London. The Met Police say they are unable to put a figure on the turnout.

1619 Members of Catholic groups from all over the UK are streaming onto the main stage in Hyde Park. Those taking part, many of them young people, are shaking hands with bishops before moving off. Fr Christopher Jamieson tells the BBC they include charities that serve the elderly and disabled, and international development organisations like Cafod.

1613 Hyde Park is really filling up, says the BBC's Pat Heery, who is there in a private capacity with his family. The sun has gone in and the temperature has dropped a bit, but spirits are being kept high by cameras picking out members of the crowd - including waving nuns.

1604 Edward Pentin, writing in the National Catholic Register, has details of the first formal briefing given by the Pope's spokesman during the visit. Father Federico Lombardi, he says, told reporters that the welcome the pontiff received at Westminster Hall on Friday was "extraordinary". The Pope made a speech to a host of politicians past and present.

1553 Once all the pre-vigil entertainment is finished in Hyde Park, we're expecting a procession to take place in which banners will be held aloft by representatives of each parish in England, Scotland and Wales. There will also be participants from national Catholic organisations such as Catholic Scouting.

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1543 Galen Gann, from Denton, Texas writes: "I cannot accept any of the Pope's apologies. All words and no actions."

1534 The Metropolitan Police say officers managing the protests in central London have so far made one arrest.

Dhruti Shah
1527 The BBC's Dhruti Shah has stumbled upon - literally, she says - campaigning actor Sir Ian McKellen among the protesters. He's wearing a red T-shirt emblazoned with, "Some people are gay, get over it". When she asked why was he was taking part, he said the T-shirt said it all.

Robert Pigott
1519 The BBC's religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott says that on balance he does think the Pope's words this morning amounted to an apology for the child sex abuse scandal. He says there was a "degree of churchy language" used, but generally speaking the speech was forthright. The Pope referred to the abuse as a crime, rather than a sin as he has previously, and this was also something of a concession, our correspondent adds.

1510 Joe Borg tweets: "The marches represent only represent an insignificant fraction of the UK population. For many, the visit by the Pope is a gift from God and a blessing on the United Kingdom." Read Joe Borg's tweets

1500 David Barry, from Manchester, writes: "I'm going to be on stage singing as part of the choir for the open air vigil at Hyde Park. We've been in rehearsals during the week, and it's set to be fantastic. It's such an opportunity, we've got great seats right behind Pope Benedict."
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1453 The protest march is now under way, having set off about 20 minutes later than planned. Once the demonstrators reach Whitehall, several speeches are planned. We'll bring you a flavour of those when they happen.

1448 Inside Hyde Park some of the Pope's support acts have been warming up the crowd ahead of this evening's vigil. Dance troupes from Ireland, Poland and north-east England are among those performing, and picnics aplenty are being consumed on the grass.

1439 Colm O'Gorman, who was abused as a child by a priest, was not impressed at the Pope's words earlier. "I'm struggling to understand how this has been reported as an apology," he told the BBC. "It doesn't contain within it the word 'sorry' and it contains no acceptance of responsibility for the cover up." If you want to read what the Pope said, the Vatican has published his Westminster Cathedral speech in full.

Dhruti Shah
1433 The protest march is just about to get under way from Hyde Park to Downing Street. The BBC's Dhruti Shah, who's in the midst of it, says people are cheering and smiling, and there are lots of condom-shaped balloons floating around. Everyone's singing Stand By Me to get them in the mood, she adds.

1423 Barry and Margaret Mizen will be among the speakers at the Hyde Park vigil later. They say their Catholic faith helped them cope after their son Jimmy was stabbed to death. "That's where we get our strength," Mr Mizen tells the BBC. The couple's son Tommy says it's "an absolute honour" for the family to take part in today's event.

Dhruti Shah
1415 Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell tells the BBC's Dhruti Shah that if he had the chance to speak to the Pope right now he would ask him to hand over any secret Vatican sex abuse files and co-operate with the police. "The Pope keeps apologising but he only apologises for the failings of others. He is not a person who deserves the honour of a state visit," he says.


1407 John Musso tweets: "The church should learn from this and deal with abuse in the first instance. The church does a lot of good around the world." Read John Musso's tweets
1400 A bit more on papal present front. Downing Street says David Cameron gave the Pope a first edition copy of Cardinal Newman's Apologia, printed in 1864, along with a newspaper cutting describing a service that the cardinal gave in Edgbaston in Birmingham.

1349 Mark, from Colchester, was another of those present at the Westminster Cathedral Mass. Afterwards he told the BBC it was an "uplifting" experience, and added: "I was also glad that the Pope expressed sorrow for the child abuse scandal which is so contrary to everything the gospels teach us, and people looking for humility could see his humble message."

1336 Members of the British Humanist Society are among those on the streets of London today protesting the Pope's presence. Chief executive Andrew Copson says he doesn't think the views of people opposed to the visit have been well-represented in the media so far. He says the coverage has been "largely unquestioning and adoring".

1325 "In a sense it was a rock star welcome and he really responded to that." That was the view of student Pascal Uche, who welcomed the Pope on behalf of the thousands of young people at Westminster Cathedral. "It was just amazing," he continued. "It was a brilliant experience. The young people really did show with their voices, hearts and smiles how much we do love him."

1305 BBC correspondent James Robbins says the Pope's apology will satisfy many within the Church and also some of its critics outside the faith but may not be enough to satisfy some of the victims and those campaigning on their behalf.

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1254 Karl, from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, writes: "Here's a reaction from a country that the Pope does not even dare to visit, the Netherlands. I was raised a Lutheran Protestant and I have no historical theology issues with the leader of the Catholic faith. He simply cannot explain to me why it would be justifiable to deny millions of faithful believers around the world protection against HIV in the form of contraceptives."

1243 The Pope himself is making his way back to the London residence of the Vatican ambassador in Wimbledon for lunch and a rest before his schedule continues. At 1700, on his way to Hyde Park, he will visit St Peter's residential home for elderly people in Vauxhall. The area's MP Kate Hoey has been giving her views on the papal visit.

Dhruti Shah
1225 Ahead of the Hyde Park vigil, the BBC's Dhruti Shah says Marble Arch is now crammed with people carrying yellow pilgrim packs and waving papal flags. There are also people trying to sell unofficial merchandise. The BBC News website Magazine looked at the appeal of Papal memorabilia.

1213 Back in the Cathedral, as the Mass draws to a close, the focus turns to Wales. Bishop of Wrexham Edwin Regan greets Benedict on behalf of the people of Wales, which he is unable to visit because of time constraints. The Pope's address includes a few words in Welsh - quite possibly the first in his 83 years.

1209 Altany from Glenrothes tweets: "It's a start. Needs to go much further on reform and openness, shine light on the secrets that have been hidden. Fess up" Read Altany's tweets

1204 The BBC's home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford has the latest on the arrests of six men in London by anti-terrorist police over an alleged threat to the Pope. The Met Police say searches of residential and commercial properties have been completed and nothing significant was found.

1156 The Pope stands on the cathedral's steps and his address is greeted with cheers, clapping and the chanting of Benedicto by young people representing every Catholic diocese in England and Wales, as well as representatives from Scotland. He advises them to "make space for silence" amid the stress of daily life. "The Holy Father has this bond with youth that we weren't expecting," Monsignor Mark Langham tells the BBC.

1151 To applause, the Pope makes his way through Westminster Cathedral to greet his young followers in the piazza.

1145 In his homily the Pope told the congregation, which also included former Prime Minister Tony Blair, that one of the "greatest challenges" facing Catholics was 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".

Dhruti Shah
1130 A steady stream of pilgrims are already walking through the main entrance of Hyde Park ahead of this evening's prayer vigil, the BBC's Dhruti Shah reports. There's still more than six hours to go but they have come prepared for the wait with picnics and fold-up chairs.

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1110 Paul, from Newcastle, England, writes: "Twelve million in taxpayers money so a man, who most of the population doesn't want here, can meet a man who most of the population didn't vote for."

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1100 Jo Davies, from Hereford, England, writes: "It is a privilege to see the Pope visit my country, both memorable and enjoyable, a very special time for everyone."

1056 It will be interesting to see how the Pope's message - perhaps his most strongly worded apology in the last three days - will be viewed by those opposed to the visit. This afternoon's march and rally organised by umbrella group Protest the Pope is predicted to be the largest demonstration so far.

1045 In his homily, the Pope expresses "deep sorrow" for victims of child abuse by Catholic priests. He acknowledges the "shame and humiliation" the "despicable crimes" have brought on the church.

1034 Earlier this year the Pope attacked Harriet Harman's Equality Bill and called on English and Welsh bishops to fight it with "religious zeal". Of her meeting, the acting Labour leader says: "We reflected on the long, close connection between and the leading role played by Catholics in the Labour Party over many decades and I wished him well for the rest of his visit."

1030 UlickO from Belfast tweets: "Music for this Mass is stunning #pope" Read UlickO's tweets

1017 The pope is leading prayers at the Mass, after being welcomed by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. It is understood the Pope will send a message of greeting to the people of Wales, as he is unable to visit them "because of the pressures of time". And the Bishop of Wrexham Edwin Regan is due to present the Pope with a replica copy of a Catholic book secretly produced in a cave in north Wales in 1586.

1005 The Pope presented Mr Cameron with a triptych of medals from the Pontificate. Nick Clegg was accompanied by his wife Miriam and their three children, who are being brought up as Catholics. The deputy PM was given a gold medal of the Pontificate and his children were presented with rosaries. Harriet Harman was given a gold medal of the Pontificate.

0955 There's more fine weather forecast for the Pope's visit, says BBC presenter Nick Miller. Through the afternoon it will turn cloudier, but it will stay dry and with light winds it will feel a little warmer than it has done recently. A top temperature of 18C.

0945 The Mass at Westminster Cathedral is under way. Afterwards the Pope will greet an crowd of 2,500 young Catholics in the Cathedral Piazza, where the service is being relayed over speakers. They include representatives from every parish in England and Wales and a contingent from Scotland. Former MP Ann Widdecombe, who is also among those in attendance, has been spotted signing autographs - her appearance on Strictly Come Dancing seem to have elevated her to celebrity status.

0930 Juke_DeHaan from London tweets: "I fear Dawkins, Fry and Tatchell have been caught out by the Pope lending them more credibility than he gives the C of E." Read Juke_DeHaan's tweets

Robert Pigott
0905 The Pope is meeting David Cameron for the first time on this visit. BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott says during the talks at Archbishop House the men are likely to discuss the PM's Big Society initiative which Benedict believes was inspired by Catholic social teaching.

0853 A brief look ahead to the Pope's itinerary. He is due to hold meetings with David Cameron, Deputy PM Nick Clegg and acting Labour leader Harriet Harman. He will then celebrate Mass at Westminster Cathedral before visiting a home for older people in south London. The day ends with a prayer vigil in Hyde Park.

0839 The Pope arrives at Archbishop House, behind Westminster Cathedral. Traffic in London on Saturday morning is always fairly quiet but from SW19 to SW1 in 14 minutes is still impressive, even with the police escort.

0825 Charles Neal, from Chesterfield Derbyshire, writes: "The Pope's visit has been moving and poignant. The coverage has been substantial and despite some inane comments and questions by ill-informed commentators has been brilliant - reflecting to a degree the true spirit of the visit and the Pope and the Church."
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0821 The Pope, who has spent a second night at the Wimbledon residence of the Papal Nuncio, his UK ambassador, has another busy day ahead of him. He is now on his way to Westminster Cathedral to celebrate Mass. Before that he is to meet the prime minister and senior politicians.

0815 Hello and welcome back to our live coverage of the Pope's visit on day three.

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