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Southwark Catholics gather to pray for Benedict XVI and next Pope

The Archbishop of Southwark, Most Revd Peter Smith, celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving for the pontificate of Benedict XVI at St George's Cathedral on Saturday afternoon.

Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI at Lambeth Bridge in September 2010

The special Mass provided an opportunity for Catholics in the Archdiocese of Southwark – which covers South London and Kent – to give thanks for the ministry of Benedict XVI whose resignation took effect on Thursday evening.

Concelebrants at the Mass included auxiliary bishop Patrick Lynch and the cathedral dean Canon John O'Toole.

"We'll miss Benedict: a great teacher, a great pastor, a man of great integrity and holiness," said the Archbishop in his introduction to the service.

In his homily the Archbishop quoted from the Pope's final public address in Rome this week.

"Benedict is no longer our Pope," said the Archbishop. "But he left the church with a message of hope and encouragement, reflecting the way that he has carried out his office over the last eight years; years of considerable turbulence in the church throughout the world."

Archbishop Smith added: "He always stressed his desire for the unity of the church, and to open dialogue with those of other religions. He worked quietly but very vigorously to that end."

Urging the congregation to pray for "wisdom, understanding and discernment" in the college of cardinals as they prepare to elect the next Pope, the Archbishop remarked that he did not envy their task.

In 2010 Benedict XVI visited Lambeth Palace before riding in the 'popemobile' across Lambeth Bridge.

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