Pope Benedict has praised Blessed John Henry Newman's firm opposition to a utilitarian education which he developed while establishing the Catholic University of Ireland, later to become UCD.

He was speaking near Birmingham after putting the English cleric and writer one step away from sainthood on what is the final day of his historic British visit.

Concelebrants Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and over 50,000 pilgrims attended the mass.

Originally a reforming Anglican priest, Newman created a sensation by converting in mid-life to Roman Catholicism.

He was appointed by the Irish hierarchy as the first rector of the Catholic University in Ireland (later University College Dublin) since the Reformation, but left amidst some acrimony to devote all of his time to Birmingham Oratory.

Meanwhile, the English Church's leading child protection official has described the Pontiff as ‘particularly positive’ about involving the statutory authorities anytime there was an allegation of abuse within the church.

Reflecting on yesterday's 15-minute meeting with the Pontiff, Bill Kilgallon said it was ‘important’ for the Church to do more to help abuse victims.