Birmingham, England, Sep 19, 2010 / 07:43 am (CNA/EWTN News) .-
The Holy Father contrasted Cardinal Newman's "auspicious" beatification day with the commemoration of 70 years since the Battle of Britain on Sunday. He affirmed the commitment to peace and reconciliation as the alternative to war's "dreadful death and destruction."
At the beginning of his homily at Sunday's beatification Mass for Cardinal John Henry Newman, the Holy Father recalled the anniversary of the Battle of Britain, when German airplanes bombarded English cities in November of 1940.
He spoke first of the importance of Sundays as the day of the Lord, the day when Jesus "rose from the dead and changed the course of human history forever, offering new life and hope to all who live in darkness and in the shadow of death."
Referring to this Sunday in particular, he said that it "marks a significant moment" in British life, the official commemoration of the Battle of Britain. "For me," he explained, "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 the evil ideology."
He remembered the casualties of Coventry, not far from Cofton Park where he was celebrating the Mass and said "(s)eventy 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.
"Yet," he concluded, "there is another, more joyful reason why this is an auspicious day for Great Britain, for the Midlands, for Birmingham. It is the day that sees Cardinal John Henry Newman formally raised to the altars and declared Blessed."
Cardinal Newman was declared Blessed just before the Mass in the presence of 55,000 people.