Catholics across Britain gear up for Pope's visit in September

By staff writers
June 21, 2010

The Catholic Church in England, Wales and Scotland is gearing up for the much-anticipated visit of Pope Benedict XVI in September 2010, and is anticipating huge turnouts at his public events.

Last week Archbishop Vincent Nichols launched The Pope in the UK booklet which is being sent out to Catholic parishes across Britain - which has one Bishops' Conference in England and Wales, and another in Scotland.

The booklet "aims to answer some simple questions about the visit itself, the call of faith and its unfolding in daily life and the role of the Catholic Church", its producers say.

It addresses ten questions, ranging from why the Pope is meeting the Queen to the contribution of the Catholic Church to British society and why the Pope will be beatifying Cardinal Newman.

The Papal Visit will take place from 16-19 September 2010. Full details of the Pope's itinerary will be published in July.

The trip has already occasioned some controversy, ranging from protests over Pope Benedict's alleged failure to address adequately child abuse scandals, something the Vatican strongly denies, to an argument about who will pay for what seems to be, in practice, both a state and pastoral visit.

The Vatican has indicated that it will cover some costs, but critics say that taxpayers who are not Catholics will still be required to pay millions of pounds. The government says that a Papal visit is of national, not just confessional, interest and importance.

A small coalition of anti-Pope groups is promising to protest at events where the pontiff, leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholic Christians, speaks, presides and visits.

Of the explanatory and promotional booklet, Archbishop Nichols says: "We wanted to try to answer the questions of those curious about the visit in an accessible and intelligent way. It is an attempt to get beyond the immediacy of headlines and make available the immensely rich tradition of the Church in dealing with the dilemmas of human life that Pope Benedict so eloquently expresses."

He added: "We are looking to spell out the richness of Catholic tradition and also the enormous contribution of the Catholic Church to this country and around the world. It is important to explain who the Pope is so people can better appreciate this historic visit."

The preface to The Pope in the UK claims: "Today there are many gaps in public knowledge in these matters. This booklet seeks to address those gaps, not in (a) profound or systematic manner but just by way of some clear facts and indications.

"They will be helpful in preparation for this Papal Visit: helpful to those who are curious, helpful to those who need to understand a little more, helpful to those who are looking forward intently to these historic days."

The cover of the booklet features the official logo of the Papal Visit. It was designed by leading architectural artist, Brian Clarke and incorporates the Papal Visit motto 'Heart speaks unto heart', taken from Cardinal Newman's writings.


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