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Rome Reports

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August - September 2010: Pope travels to United Kingdom

The Pope spent his summer vacation in Castel Gandolfo, located just outside Rome. He was there for two weeks without holding any official meetings or mass audiences. ;He devoted much of his time reviewing the third volume of his book “Jesus of Nazareth” in which he reflects on the childhood of Christ in Bethlehem, Egypt and Nazareth.

He soon resumed his normal schedule, meeting in St. Peter?s Square with more than 50 thousand acolytes from all over the world. During the encounter he offered advice on how to fulfill their roles and the meaning of each liturgical gesture. ; In September, the Pope made the most important trip of the year. From September 16-19 he visited Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Birmingham. His first meeting was with the Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which hosts official ceremonies when she resides in Balmoral Castle. It was a very cordial visit, but also very symbolic because the Queen is also the “supreme governor” of the Church of England. Benedict XVI then visited the Primate of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and thanked him for all his public gestures of friendship. The most important political event on the Pope?s schedule was his speech in Westminster Hall before 1,800 politicians, businessmen and British intellectuals. It was in this same place that St. Thomas More was sentenced to death in 1535 for not accepting the Act of Supremacy of the King over the Church of England. The Pope took this opportunity to reflect on the relationship between politics and religion. Benedict XVIIf the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy. The most important religious ceremony of the visit was the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Cofton Park, Birmingham, which held around 70 thousand people. Before returning to Rome, the Pope attended a concert hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Castel Gandolfo. The Requiem of Mozart was performed, a composer who is especially linked to the infancy of Benedict XVI. Benedict XVI“Every time I hear Mozart?s music I can not avoid recalling the memory of my parish, of being a young boy during the holiday, echoing a ?Mass? by Mozart.” He said that Mozart?s music helped him imagine the beauty of heaven, which gives hope before pain and death. ;