Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Pope to preach in Westminster Hall

Pope Benedict XVI will preach in Westminster Hall, where Catholic martyrs including Sir Thomas More were condemned to die, when he visits England next September, it has emerged.

Daily Telegraph
Published: 4:26PM GMT 08 Dec 2009

He will make an address to MPs and peers from the spot where Sir Thomas was sentenced in 1535 for his opposing the adultery of King Henry VIII.

Details of the four-day state visit are being discussed in Rome between a delegation of Whitehall officials and their Vatican counterparts.

A Vatican delegation has also visited London in an attempt to finalise the plans.

It is understood, however, that the visit will begin on September 16 and that it will end after the Pope has personally presided over the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, possibly in Wembly stadium, on Sunday September 19.

The address in Westminster Hall will be one of two public speeches that the Pope will deliver during the trip. The other will be to academics at Oxford University.

Former Tory Minister Ann Widdecombe, a convert to Catholicism who will be standing down at the next General Election, said it was “marvellous” that the Pope will be able to address parliamentarian from such an historic venue.

She said: “He should remind Parliamentarians of their duty to guarantee freedom and democracy and that includes Christians.”

Westminster Hall was built in the 11th century and is the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster.

It is sacred to many Catholics because it was where many martyrs and saints were tried for High Treason during the Protestant Reformation.

Most notably it was the scene of the trial of Thomas More, the former Lord Chancellor canonised as a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1935 and made patron saint of politicians by Pope John Paul II.

More was beheaded after he refused to take an oath attached to the Act of Supremacy that made the King the supreme head of the Church in England.


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