Five arrested in threat against Pope
Updated on 17 September 2010
Five men have been arrested in London over a potential threat to the Pope, as the pontiff continues his tour of London on his first-ever state visit to the UK.
The Met's Counter Terrorism Command arrested shortly before 6am this morning, after information emerged that Pope Benedict XVI could be in danger.
The suspects, aged 26, 27, 36, 40 and 50, were arrested at a business in central London and taken to a central London police station, under the Terrorism Act 2000.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the business was being searched, as well as homes in north and east London.
"Initial searches have not uncovered any hazardous items," a Met Police spokesman said.
"Today's arrests were made after police received information. Following initial inquiries by detectives, a decision was made to arrest the five men.
"There is no change to the UK threat level."
The Pope's schedule has not been affected by the threat.
A multimillion-pound operation was put in place to protect the Pope during his tour of Scotland, London and the West Midlands.
The Pope has addressed thousands of school students at a 'big assembly' at St Mary's University College in Twickenham, urging children to reject materialism and embrace the role of faith in society.
About 4,000 pupils cheered and waved flags as the pontiff took to the stage for the event, which was set up around the running track of the Catholic college.
Choirs sang a traditional African hymn as the Pope took his place on a red throne.
During the assembly, the Pope warned against the limitations of celebrity and the material world.
"Young people people are often encouraged to model themselves on figures from the world of sport and entertainment.
"Happiness is something we all want but one of the great tragedies of this world is that many people never find it because they look for it in the wrong places," he said.
Earlier, the pontiff spoke of the importance of Catholic education in upholding moral standards during a prayer service at the St Mary's College chapel.
"Faith needs to be the driving factor behind every aspect of the school," he said.
He said education must never be considered as "purely utilitarian" and praised teachers who were devoted to extending Christian values beyond the classroom.
"It is about forming the human person, equipping him or her to live life to the full - in short, it is about imparting wisdom," he said.
"I give praise to God for teachers and the Church's great missionary work.
"I myself, as a young boy, was taught by English ladies, and I owe them a depth of gratitude," he said.
The Pope then presented the school with a gift- a mosaic of the blessed virgin Mary.
The Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Nick Anstee, school leaders, and thousands of students greeted the Pope as his motorcade arrived at the school grounds, where he walked through the crowd, shaking hands and blessing young students.
But dozens of protesters also gathered outside the gate of St Mary's to protest against the state visit.
Papal visit "better than a Lady Gaga Concert"
Excitement and controversies are dominating the papal visit, writes Alex Thomson
So on Day Two, Benedict is esconced in St Mary's University College in Twickenham in West London- close to the residence of the ambassador to the Vatican- where he spent the night. So that's why it's down that neck of the woods this morning. You cannot move a Pope very far without incurring great policing costs etc. So keep him local is key this morning.
Excited children outside as well as demonstrators. A small boy said "It's better than a Lady Gaga concert", one wonders what Pope Ben might make of that. Equally protesters have been calling his stance on abortion, gays and birth control "evil".
He said little of note in his address at the church this morning beyond the general call to the faith and again, praising education and Britain's contribution to education across centuries.
He will get more pointed I'm sure when he finds himself in C of E Command and Control Centre aka Lambeth Palace and Westminster Abbey. Much is being made of these historic firsts as the Pope steps into the inner sanctuaries of the church, which split from Rome under such acrimony that you would not think it all happened several cenutries ago when a serial wife-abuser was king and wanted out.
Hey-ho. The back story nowadays is the C of E's undisguised anger at Rome for attempting to welcome in Anglican clergy unable to accept the ordination of women and, no doubt you can say the same on the issues of gay clergy but double it. The Archbishop of Canterbury certainly had a heated call to Cardinal Walter Kasper- he of the third world agressive atheism fiasco.
Walter is now "ill" but the rift and ill-felling goes on. You will of course see none of it today. Although thus far Benedict has not held back from attacking the growing atheist culture of the UK and is clearly anxious about multi-culturalism in some, as yet, unarticulated way.
So the speech to watch is Westminster Hall. The Catholic MPs will be there in numbers but how many others? It's Friday, constituency day, how many MPs will want to hang around Westminister to be preached at by any pope - let alone this one.
And on the peadophile priests issue? Ignore all you've seen, heard or read about him taking on the issue. He did so only on the plane yesterday and only in terms of the church. His responsibility, his actions, his response - he ducked all three utterly.
Earlier, the Pope held mass in Wimbledon, where crowds gathered outside the Chapel of the Apostolic from as early as 6am.
Groups of school children sang hymns, danced and played instruments as the Pope's motorcade headed towards Twickenham for his next official engagement.
Pope Benedict will now travel to Lambeth Palace to meet the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
The Popemobile will then take the pontiff across the Thames to Westminster Hall for his address MPs, where is expected to focus on the role of faith in society.
Later this evening, the Pope will hold evening prayers at Westminster Abbey.
Relations between the Catholic and Anglican churches were soured in 2009 when the Vatican moved to make it easier for members of the Anglican communion to convert to Catholicism.
Dr Williams was moved to protest personally to the Pope in a brief, 20-minute meeting at the Vatican.
More from Channel 4 News on the papal visit
- Pope warns of 'aggressive secularism'
- Snowblog: why Benedict is no John Paul
- Who Knows Who: Benedict in Britain
- The weird and wonderful souvenirs of the Pope's visit
- Catholic abuse in England and Wales revealed
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic church in England and Wales, has said: "While he fully on the record recognises the importance in modern democratic societies of institutions being secular, he expects secular institutions to have an open and positive attitude towards religious faith."
Yesterday, in his address to the Queen, the pontiff warned of a trend towards atheism in society, suggesting it could undermine Christian values.
"More aggressive forms of secularism are now tolerated, but let it not exclude the Christian foundation and impede its freedoms," he told an audience at Holyrood House.
The start of the Pope’s visit yesterday was overshadowed by comments by Cardinal Walter Kasper, a papal adviser, who told a German magazine that Britain was similar to a "third world" country, and went on to attack "aggressive new atheism" in the UK.