Benedict XVI is the first Roman Pontiff to worship in Westminster Abbey. With the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, the Bishops of the Established Church, the clergy of other Christian churches, the Pope led the Evening Prayer and prayed at the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor. With the singing of hymns and the Anglican Chant, I observed the Pope had that "twinkle" in his eyes as he was immersed in Anglican patrimony.
Previously, the Pope was at Westminster Hall, the great hall in the Palace of Parliament where the Lords and Commons usually sit to hear world leaders. The Hall is forever hallowed in English democracy for it was here that Thomas More, Edmund Campion and other Catholic martyrs were tried. King Charles I and William Laud the Archbishop of Canterbury were also tried here and they are revered by the Anglican Church as martyrs. With the intelligentsia, former Prime Ministers, Dons of the Ancient Universities, and the Lord Bishops here the Pope essentially spoke to the British establishment about the dangers of moral relativism in civil society.
Benedict XVI said
“If 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 history of the 20th Century is a clash between totalitarian ideologies and democracy. Democracy was victorious as it held on to an ethical sense of right and wrong not based on social consensus or mores, but on the Natural Law. The Pope rightly reminded the British Parliament on their abolition of slavery, which the rightness of the cause lay on the inherent dignity of the human being, which comes from the Creator himself and not on a changing social consensus.
These are issues that the Philippines and its people have to face as the Philippine Establishment borrows Western Secularist positions without much reflection on these.
The Pope's most political words were on the lack of ethical underpinnings on global capitalism that has led to the misery of millions of the world's people as a result of the recent financial crisis.
His Holiness gave his message in the clearest possible way and now we are trying to digest what it is all about for the message from the "Pilgrim from Rome" is more radical that we have thought when we first heard it.