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Rome Reports

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Benedict XVI says the Old Continent "holds on to its Christian soul"

Benedict XVI"This apostolic journey confirmed a deep conviction for me: the old European nations are holding on to their Christian soul. And although an aggressive trend of secularism threatens the Church, (I am) convinced of the good that is ; striving to maintain this rich tradition."

Benedict XVI also recalled his meeting with victims of sexual abuse by clergy and religious.

Benedict XVI"It was an emotional time and one of prayer."

Benedict XVI exprssed gratitude for the "warm welcome" of the British and said that the four-day visit marked the beginning of a "new and important phase" in relations between the Vatican and Britain.

The Pope said his visit also served to support British Catholics and he noted that the Christian heritage is "alive and strong". At the same time, he asked them to follow the Gospel in order to create a society which is more "just, humane and free."

But in the United Kingdom, the Pope also addressed non-Catholics. Benedict said he wanted to "establish an open dialogue" and to convey the newness of the Gospel.

Benedict XVI"I was able to have meetings with the highest political authorities of the country, with parliamentarians, representatives of various religions, and Christians of other confessions."

The Pope also recalled the beatification of Cardinal Newman as a moment of "deep personal satisfaction." He noted Cardinal Newman?s role in helping people to know and express the truth in charity.

Before concluding the audience, the Pope also spoke of the meeting of the Joint Commission for Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, ; taking place now in Vienna where they are discussing the primacy of Rome.

Benedict said that obedience to the will of Jesus and the great challenges facing Christianity must help "restore union between the Churches."