As it happened: Pope in Britain: 19 September 2010

  • The fourth day of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the UK saw him lead a beatification service for 19th Century theologian Cardinal Newman at Cofton Park in Birmingham
  • He also visited the Catholic Seminary of Oscott, which trains future priests, and held a meeting with the Bishops of England, Scotland and Wales
  • Prime Minister David Cameron thanked the Pope for making the country "sit up and think", and vowed to increase co-operation between the UK and the Vatican on issues like poverty and climate change
  • Live page reporters: Victoria King and Alex Kleiderman

1951 Well, that's a wrap. Thank you for joining us for our live coverage of the Pope's visit and for all your contributions. We hope you've enjoyed our efforts and will join us again for some more live commentary soon.

1947 Ruth Gledhill, religion correspondent for the Times newspaper, says that where protests occurred they were conducted with "dignity and decorum". She says she was told ahead of the visit that police were on "hair trigger" alert because of previous assassination attempts on the Pope's life, and if there had been any attempt to make an citizen's arrest of the pontiff, as some had suggested, officers would have had to decide in a split second whether to use their weapons.

1942 Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes, policing co-ordinator for the papal visit, tells the BBC it's been challenging, but "enjoyable". He says colleagues at the Vatican have been "amazed" at the British ability - "spirit of fair play", he calls it - to allow both well-wishers and protesters to gather in the same area and make their views known without any problems.

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1937 Leo Goatley, from Gloucester, writes: "Perhaps surprisingly, the Pope omitted to place family at the centre of his preaching, which should be pivotal to the teaching of the Church. As a lapsed Catholic married to a devout member of the Church, I found the plea for dialogue between faith and reason curious as the idea of a belief in a God is, to me, far less challenging than a faith required to accept the full creed of Christianity or any other religion for that matter."

Sitala Peek
1932 If you missed the events in Birmingham earlier today, the BBC's Sitala Peek was there and has written about her experiences.

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1927 Adrian Winchester writes: "I had my doubts about how successful this visit would be but I'm now sorry to see the Pope go. He has addressed some important issues that go to the heart of the sort of society we want."

1917 Lord Patten, the government's papal visit co-ordinator, says the cost to the taxpayer is "pretty low", about £10m. "I think it's been an investment in a very important relationship," he tells the BBC. "A relationship with an organisation which is the second largest development organisation in the world, and a relationship with a faith which provides 30,000 different examples of social care in this country."

1903 Archbishop Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, tells the BBC the visit has gone better than he could have expected. Contrary to the image often painted of him, he says the Pope came across as he truly is - "as a gentle, sensitive, eloquent and really lovely person". "It's out of that loveliness that he brings the message that he did," the Archbishop adds.

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1858 'Spooncams' in Kidderminster writes: "Just another waste of time and money. I work as a driver and the visit caused total mayhem with roads closed and for what? Let's hope another 30 years before the next visit."

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1853 John Nixon in York writes: "The Pope has penetrated the superficiality and shallowness of many aspects of life today. He speaks in a calm and eloquent manner without an emphasis on him personally or his performance. This has stood out in contrast to the spin and gloss we see from many of our political and religious leaders."

1849 Spoke too soon. The Pope squeezed in one more wave, from the window of the plane as it taxied away for take-off. It's bound for Rome's Ciampino airport where it's due to land at about 2230 local time.

1841 One last wave from the top of the steps and that's it. The Pope steps inside the plane - known in some quarters as Shepherd One - which is flying both the union jack and the papal standard.

1836 After a final shake of the hand and a few private words with the prime minister, Pope Benedict walks the red carpet for the last time and says goodbye to a number of his bishops.

1834 The Pope says he will "treasure the time" spent with members of his Church while in the UK. He once again mentions Cardinal Newman and the lessons he feels we can all learn from him.

1832 The Pope now takes centre-stage and thanks all those who have helped to organise his visit. He says the diversity of modern Britain is a challenge to the government, but also offers an opportunity for greater inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue.

1830 The PM concludes by saying the government and the Vatican have agreed to increase their co-operation "on the key international issues where we share a common goal", including tackling climate change, fighting poverty and disease, and working for peace around the world.

1828 David Cameron says Britain is characterised by a deep, but quiet compassion, and he has felt it personally in recent days "as I have cradled a new daughter and said goodbye to a wonderful father".

1826 "Faith is part of the fabric of our country," the prime minister continues. But he adds: "People do not have to share a religious faith or agree with religion on everything to see the benefit of asking the searching questions that you, your Holiness, have posed to us about our society and how we treat ourselves and each other."

1823 "You have spoken to a nation of six million Catholics, but you have been heard by a nation of more than 60 million citizens," David Cameron says. "For you have offered a message not just to the Catholic Church, but to each and every one of us, of every faith and none. A challenge to us all to follow our conscience, to ask not what are my entitlements, but what are my responsibilities? To ask not what we can do for ourselves, but what we can do for others?"

1822 The Pope has now arrived on the airport tarmac. He emerges from his car, surrounding by his ever-present be-suited security guards, and takes David Cameron by the hand. After a few private words they take to the podium.

1815 David Cameron has arrived at Birmingham airport. He's standing on the red carpet in front of the podium, complete with two gold-trimmed chairs, from which he and the Pope will speak.

Robert Pigott
1812 The BBC's Robert Pigott says that while the visit has been a success and the turnout pretty good, most people have come out to see A Pope, not The Pope, because Benedict does not embody the Catholic Church as his predecessor John Paul did.

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1809 Sarah in Birmingham writes: "I'm not Catholic, but I have really enjoyed the Pope's visit to the UK this week. He has come across as a lovely man, he has spoken wisely and in a way anyone could listen and understand, and the crowds seemed to have responded to this at the events he has been too. He has looked happy to be here and I hope he enjoyed his visit."

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1801 RCYouthWorker tweets about the Pope's speech to the bishops: "Nothing in the speech that is a telling off but plenty that will be spun as such. Just wait and see." Read RCYouthWorker's tweets

1735 The Pope leaves St Mary's on his way to Birmingham International airport.

1730 More photo opportunities. Inside the chapel, the Pope poses for a picture with the heads of the Church in Scotland and England and Wales and the assembled cardinals and bishops. Outside, in St Mary's College garden, it's the turn of the West Midlands Police officers who have guarded him today. Then it's on to a group photo with the seminarians, who go on to give him a rousing send-off.

Robert Pigott
1720 BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott says the invitation to Anglicans is a "very sensitive subject" and the Pope's first public reference to it on this visit was surprising.

1715 In his closing address the Pope defends the Vatican's offer to welcome disenchanted Anglicans into the Catholic fold. He says the move, which allows Anglicans to retain elements of their heritage, could help contribute "positively" to relations between the two churches. Pope Benedict says the abuse scandal "seriously undermines the moral credibility" of the Church but suggested the lessons could be shared for the benefit of wider society.

1700 The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, says the visit will "long remain in our hearts".

1656 "Already in Scotland we are speaking of the Benedict bounce", says Cardinal O'Brien, as he refers to the four "wonderful days" of the visit.

1653 Cardinal Keith O'Brien, head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, thanks the Pope for graciously wearing a special tartan during his time in Edinburgh on Thursday. He says he's pleased the pontiff was "proud to be an honorary Scotsman for a day". Cardinal O'Brien says the welcome the Pope received in Scotland reminded the world of the country's ancient Christian roots.

1646 The meeting between the Pope and the bishops of England, Scotland and Wales has now wrapped up and we're expecting to hear a few words from some of those who were involved.

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1640 LicklePickle, in Birmingham, tweets: "The Pope was running late, so instead of the Popemobile going walking pace, it rushed past about 15mph! Sooo disappointing!" Read LicklePickle's tweets

1634 Archbishop of Birmingham Bernard Longley says he is delighted with how smoothly today's events have gone and how warm the welcome has been. "The city has shown its concern for people of faith," he told the BBC.

1625 Father Christopher Jamison, a Benedictine monk who appeared in the BBC series The Monastery, has given his take on turnout. "I think it is the spontaneity of those 200,000 people in London that will really surprise the Vatican because they'd been led to believe that while the Catholic faithful would welcome the Holy Father, there would be a great upsurge in scepticism and doubt among ordinary British people."

1615 Nick Clegg has been asked about the Pope's visit at the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool. "I think the differences that people might have with the doctrine of the Catholic Church speak for themselves," he said. "But, I have to say that I also believe we are, above and beyond everything else, a liberal and tolerant nation, and that whilst debate, criticism, analysis of the teachings of the Catholic Church is, I think, necessary, I think as a community, as a nation and certainly as a government we have an absolute duty to welcome what is the leader of a very, very significant world religion."

1604 Something else a bit special for you from our team in Birmingham - it's a gigapan image of the beatification service. You can use the controls to scroll around and to zoom in to see specific details up close.

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1557 Glen, from London, writes: "Who is David Cameron to thank the Pope for challenging Britain to "sit up and think"? What about the faith is "a vital part of our national conversation?" Why are so many people concerned with this nonsense? Who is he to tell me what I should be conversing in? I'm glad I'm an atheist. I rely on facts, not opinion - and I don't try to force my opinions onto others."

1548 More on the impact of the Pope's visit to St Mary's. Father Paul Fitzpatrick, who was involved in the planning, says: "It's an intensely spiritual moment; a time of thanksgiving, a time of prayer, a time when we acknowledge the direction, leadership and example the Holy Father gives us." On the choice of lunch menu, he adds: "I sat down tried some of the cooking which our great chefs have and decided what he might like."

1535 Following his private meeting at St Mary's College, we're expecting the Pope to give a short speech before heading to Birmingham airport. It's there that he'll say a final few words and be thanked personally by the prime minister.

1525 "The hairs on the back of your neck just stood up. It was unbelievable," said Catherine Henderson, one of those present at this morning's beatification. She attended with her mother, Patricia, and her son, Rory.

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1510 Katharine, from Hertford, writes: "I had the privilege of representing my parish as a banner carrier at the Hyde Park vigil. I wish to express strong agreement with the Holy Father that people who express religious beliefs in England are frequently dismissed as ignorant and gullible people."

1501 We've put together a gallery of images from this morning's events in Birmingham. Check it out here.

1452 David Cameron will tell Pope Benedict later he agrees with him about the importance of faith in public life. In a speech in Birmingham, the PM will thank the Pope for challenging Britain to "sit up and think", and will insist that faith is "a vital part of our national conversation".

1440 Breaking food news. We understand the Pope is enjoying Welsh lamb and treacle pudding for his lunch with the bishops. The BBC's Sangita Myska, who is at St Mary's College, says a special bed has been brought in for his post-prandial rest after the one originally intended for him was found to be too high.

1430 St Mary's College, Oscott - where the Pope is now - trains new recruits for the priesthood. "Formation", as it is called, takes six years, and there are currently 28 seminarians in formation. Their average age is 29, and 10 come from outside the British Isles. Those overseas recruits come from the US, Ghana, Vietnam, India and Italy.

1421 Some have gone to considerable lengths to see the Pope several times during his visit. Sister Mary Pieta, a Franciscan Sister of the Renewal, based in Hunslet, Leeds, was at the Westminster Cathedral Mass and the Hyde Park vigil yesterday, and also at today's beatification. "We had a couple of hours sleep and then we got in the car this morning and drove here," she said. "I think the Pope has shown a great love for this country and a great love for the people here."

1413 Chris Lamb, from Catholic newspaper The Tablet, says he expects the Pope to use his meeting with bishops later to encourage them to do more to build up the priesthood - both in terms of morale and overall numbers. On the Pope generally, he says he believes the rather negative image of him as "God's Rottweiler" has "disappeared" during the visit.

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1406 Sunil Anjum Inayat, UAE, writes: "Pope Benedict has successfully delivered his message to the Christian world, especially to Britain, on her insignificant treatment of Christian values. Further he has shown great responsibility to unite the church around the world and he has shown his sorrow and apologised on the issue of sexual abuse. I consider this visit to be highly significant and I believe results will be seen in the near future."

1357 On the move once again, the Pope is now heading to his final engagement - by limousine not Popemobile - at St Mary's College, Oscott, which is the seminary of the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham. There he will have a private lunch followed by a meeting with bishops from England, Wales and Scotland.

1352 The Pope has just emerged from the Birmingham Oratory which was founded by Cardinal Newman in 1852. He was expected to be shown the cardinal's room and his private chapel before becoming the first pilgrim to pray at a new shrine to him. Incidentally, Cardinal Newman was buried in the graveyard of the Oratory's retreat house in Rednal, but his remains were exhumed in 2008 to allow for public veneration.

1345 A bit more on events yesterday when, for the first time, the Pope met a group of people involved in child protection. One of them, Bill Kilgallon, from the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission, told reporters today they discussed a new model of care, with checks at every level - parish, diocese and national - and closer co-operation with police and social services. "He is determined the Church should respond better... to the victims of abuse and give them more support," Mr Kilgallon added.

1337 Ese Iljasan, from Manchester, whose 10-month-old daughter Aderonke was plucked from the crowd at Cofton Park and kissed by the Pope, has spoken of her delight. "It is the biggest thing that has ever happened to me, ever," she said. "Aderonke kept clapping at the Pope… She was so excited, I guess the Pope saw the excitement in her."

1325 The Pope arrives at Birmingham Oratory. He steps out of the Popemobile and greets the crowd before walking into the building for the private visit.

1250 The BBC News Channel has shown the Pope's declaration of beatification again. After the build-up, the actual moment was surprisingly low-key and bereft of ceremony. You can watch it here.

1246 The Pope himself is now on the way to the oratory founded by Cardinal Newman, about three miles away. The BBC's Kieran Fox says there's a crowd of about 2,000 waiting to greet him.

Sitala Peek
1245 Now the beatification is over, Cofton Park has turned into a picnic venue with pilgrims eagerly breaking their pre-Mass fast, says the BBC's Sitala Peek.

1230 The Vatican has just published the Pope's homily from Cofton Park in full.

1225 Father Lombardi had this to say on the protests: "If there are critics and protests, this is normal for us and the Pope and it is a positive sign of freedom of expression in this society."

1210 The BBC's John McManus has news of a press briefing by Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi. He said the Pope has had a marvellous reception over the four days - it's been an opportunity for him to explain the positive contribution that Catholicism makes. He added the pope had approached the problem of sexual abuse in a positive way. In ecumenical terms, Benedict's meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the service at Westminster Abbey were an important and successful part of the visit.

1200 A late look at the newspapers. Many believe the Pope's visit has been a success. The Observer says the "softy spoken Benedict has charmed many" but he must listen to opinion. The Daily Telegraph says he has shown "great moral courage" by addressing head-on the issue of abuse. The News of the World sums up the visit under the headline, "People's Pope leaves Britain with a smile on its face" but the Independent on Sunday focuses on a survey which it says suggests that British Catholics have rejected the Vatican's orthodoxy.

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1140 Sarah, Midlands tweets: "Cofton Park does look fabulous, well done Birmingham!" Read Sarah's tweets

Robert Pigott
1125 As the Pope's visit draws to a close, the discussion will turn to its achievements. BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott suggests Benedict has gone some way towards wooing a sceptical public to his cause.

1115 The Pope moves on to pay tribute to the "warmth and humanity" of Cardinal Newman. He has used the Cardinal's example to highlight his message over the four day visit. The Pope said: "His insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilised society, and into the need for a broadly-based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance to Victorian England, but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world."

1110 In his homily, the German-born Pope refers to the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, also being marked today. "This particular Sunday also marks a significant moment in the life of the British nation... 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."

1035 The crowd cheers as the Pope beatifies Cardinal Newman - now known as the Blessed John Henry Newman. Incidentally, this is the first time Pope Benedict has performed a beatification.

Sitala Peek
1015 More on the Pope's arrival. A pilgrim next to me is crying tears of joy and has dropped to her knees at seeing the Pope go past, reports the BBC's Sitala Peek. Others run behind the Popemobile as it crosses the park.

1010 The chair the Pope will sit on is 8ft high. It's made from white ash and fitted with stained glass and is the work of Ian Hall, deputy head of Cardinal Newman School in Coventry.

0955 The Popemobile moves through Cofton Park towards the stage where the beatification will take place. It stops several times to allow the Pope to bless babies.

0948 The Pope is introduced to Tim Tolkien, the great nephew of Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien. He's a sculptor who has created a statue of Cardinal Newman. The Pope blesses the statue. More on Tim Tolkien's creation here.

0945 Divine intervention for the Pope's arrival? The sun has come out just as the Pope's motorcade arrives at Cofton Park.

0937 Little sign of a major protest against the Pope's visit today, says the BBC's Daniel Boettcher. After Saturday's march in London, there are only 20 protesters outside Cofton Park.

0931 A steady flow of wet pilgrims have made their way to Cofton Park, says the BBC's Dominic Hurst. Amid a sea of umbrellas in light rain, monks in long habits are alongside families and other worshippers.

0925 The weather for the crowd in Birmingham is not as promising as the last three days. According to the Met Office, it will be cloudy with the chance of some rain falling around midday. A top temperature of 18C.

0924 Cheers go up as the Papal helicopter is spotted in the sky above Cofton Park.

0858 To find out a bit more about Cardinal John Henry Newman ahead of the 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.

0855 This final 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.

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0848 Maria Alvarez in Birmingham, writes: "I am in Cofton park waiting for the beatification of Cardinal Newman under the rain. Perhaps a sign of what he suffered in life! But very happy to be here and thank you to the BBC for covering his stay."

0834 The Pope and his entourage are now in the air. Before leaving he also took the opportunity to have his picture taken outside his Wimbledon base with the Metropolitan Police security team who guarded him there. A number of babies were also allowed in to the grounds to be blessed. The BBC's Jon Brain at the scene says in the Vatican's eyes the reaction to his visit has been better than expected.

0830 The Pope is about to leave London by helicopter on his way to Birmingham. He emerged from the Wimbledon residence of the Papal Nuncio, his UK ambassador, where he has been staying during the visit, at 0817. Unlike on Friday and Saturday, the Pope appeared outside the gates of the property and took time to acknowledge the crowd of people gathered behind barriers on the other side of the road before getting into a BMW limousine.

0815 Hello and welcome the final day of our live coverage of the Pope's visit to Britain.



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