Pope, ending his British trip, recalls Nazi terror in WW2
Pope Benedict on Sunday expressed “shame and horror” over the wartime suffering caused by his German homeland and said he was moved to mark the 70th anniversary of a key air victory with Britons.
(Photo: London during the Blitz/U.S. National Archives)
On the last day of a four-day visit to Britain that drew the biggest protest march of any of his foreign trips, the pope also beatified Cardinal John Henry Newman, one of the most prominent English converts from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism.
The pope was seen off from the airport by Prime Minister David Cameron who said Benedict had challenged the “whole of the country to sit up and think” about issues such as social responsibility during his four-day state visit.
On Sunday, Britain commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the air conflict that doomed Hitler’s planned invasion of Britain. “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,” the pope said in his sermon to more than 50,000 people attending the open-air mass.
“Seventy years later, we recall with shame and horror the dreadful toll of death and destruction that war brings in its wake, and we renew our resolve to work for peace and reconciliation wherever the threat of conflict looms.”
(Photo: Pope Benedict shakes hands with well-wisher, 19 Sept 2010/Matt Cardy)
In the early 1940s, the former Joseph Ratzinger was briefly a member of the Hitler Youth when membership was compulsory. During the war, he was assigned to an anti-aircraft battery in Bavaria and then sent to Austria. After returning to Bavaria, he deserted and, at the end of World War Two, he was a U.S. prisoner of war. The pope has said that as devout Catholics, his parents rejected Nazi ideology.