Excerpts from farewell comments by PM David Cameron and Pope Benedict
(Photo: Pope Benedict and Prime Minister David Cameron before the pope’s departure, 19 Sept 2010/ Eddie Keogh)
Following are excerpts from comments by Prime Minister David Cameron and Pope Benedictbefore the pontiff left for Rome on Sunday after four days in Scotland and England.
Prime Minister David Cameron:
“Your Holiness, on this truly historic first State Visit to Britain, you have spoken to a nation of 6 million Catholics but you have been heard by a nation of more than 60 million citizens and by many millions more all around the world. 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?
“…this common bond has been an incredibly important part of your message to us. And it’s at the heart of the new culture of social responsibility we want to build in Britain. People of faith – including our 30,000 faith-based charities – are great architects of that new culture. For many, faith is a spur to action. It shapes their beliefs and behaviour; and it gives them a sense of purpose. Crucially, it is their faith that inspires them to help others. And we should celebrate that. Faith is part of the fabric of our country. It always has been and it always will be. As you, your Holiness, have said, faith is not a problem for legislators to solve but rather a vital part of our national conversation. And we are proud of that.
“But 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. You have really challenged the whole country to sit up and think, and that can only be a good thing. Because I believe we can all share in your message of working for the common good and that we all have a social obligation each other, to our families and our communities…”
“… The very diversity of modern Britain is a challenge to its Government and people, but it also represents a great opportunity to further intercultural and interreligious dialogue for the enrichment of the entire community.
“In these days, I was grateful for the opportunity to meet Her Majesty The Queen, as well as yourself and other political leaders, and to be able to discuss matters of common interest, both at home and abroad. I was particularly honoured to be invited to address both Houses of Parliament in the historic precincts of Westminster Hall. I sincerely hope that these occasions will contribute to confirming and strengthening the excellent relations between the Holy See and the United Kingdom, especially in cooperation for international development, in care for the natural environment, and in the building of a civil society with a renewed sense of shared values and common purpose.
“It was also my pleasure to visit His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of the Church of England, and later to pray with them and our fellow Christians in the evocative surroundings of Westminster Abbey, a place which speaks so eloquently of our shared traditions and culture. As Britain is home to so many religious traditions, I was grateful to have the opportunity to meet their representatives and to share some thoughts with them about the contribution that the religions can offer to the development of a healthy pluralistic society…”