Lord Speaker, Baroness Hayman's speech of thanks to Pope Benedict XVI

Address to Pope Benedict XVI
Westminster Hall
Friday 17 September 2010

Your Holiness, it is my privilege today to thank you on behalf of everyone here, parliamentarians and non-parliamentarians alike, for your presence at Westminster and for the way in which you have spoken to us about issues that are important and challenging to us all.

You spoke with great generosity about the United Kingdom and about the Westminster Parliament, its contribution over centuries to the fights for human rights and for justice, and we are enormously grateful for those generous words.

You spoke too about the role of faith in contemporary society. In the House of Lords we much appreciate the religious voices that take part in essentially political debates. Those religious voices come from the Most Reverent Primate and his fellow Bishops, of course, but they come from members of other faiths as well, from Jews and from Muslims, from Hindus and from Sikhs, and they take their place along with the views of those who do not come from faith backgrounds or communities.

It is that diversity of voices that perhaps instils in us that ethos so central to parliamentary debate of respect and the ability to listen to those with divergent views, an issue which you have stressed so much in your visit here today.

But for me perhaps the most important and longstanding thing that I will take from what you have said is the need for an ethical foundation as each of us approaches the complexities and the difficult issues facing us as individuals, as communities, and facing the world today.

The seeking of that ethical dimension, the need to have a moral approach based on fundamental values, that is a challenge for each of us, whatever our backgrounds and whatever our beliefs.

Your Holiness, it has been a privilege for all of us to listen to you today. It has been a truly memorable occasion, and we hope that your visit to the United Kingdom will equally be a memorable event for you. Once again, our thanks and our best wishes for the rest of your visit to this country.

Thank you.

Image: Parliamentary copyright