Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pope to visit Britain in 2010

Pope Benedict XVI is to visit Britain in 2010, the BBC has learned.

It will be the first papal visit to Britain since 1982, when Pope John Paul II's six-day tour drew huge crowds.

The news of Pope Benedict's visit comes after Gordon Brown extended a formal invitation to the Pope during a private audience in February.

The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales also sent him a formal invitation in 2007. Details of his visit have yet to emerge.

The trip is set to be the first official state visit by a pontiff - John Paul II's visit in May 1982 was on a pastoral basis and did not follow an official invitation by the UK government.

Masses were held in cities including Cardiff, London, Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh and he also met the Queen and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Downing Street refused to comment on Pope Benedict's visit, saying it was a matter for the Vatican.

'Warmly received'

The BBC's Robert Piggott said Mr Brown, who comes from a staunch Protestant background, had met Pope Benedict three times.

Our correspondent said the prime minister's invitation in February had been "warmly received" by the Vatican and was linked to the beatification of Cardinal Newman - England's most celebrated convert to Roman Catholicism.

The Pope is said to have a particular interest in Newman and to support his canonisation, he said.

Earlier this year, Pope Benedict approved as a miracle the cure of a US Roman Catholic deacon from a crippling spinal disease, bringing Cardinal Newman, who died in 1890, one step closer to sainthood.

Deacon Jack Sullivan, who is to visit Britain in November, said he became completely free of pain after praying to Cardinal Newman in 2001.

It is not yet known when and where Pope Benedict will visit but our correspondent said it was likely to be another six-day trip.

He said there was a possibility that the Pope might visit Northern Ireland - unlike Pope John II who, on his visit to the Irish Republic in 1982, prayed for an end to sectarian violence in the North.

Pope Benedict's visit would only be the second by a head of the Catholic Church since Henry VIII declared himself head of the church in England more than 500 years ago.

There are an estimated 4.2 million Catholics in England and Wales.

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Anonymous said...

But why's he coming?

Well he might do a bit of good. Or he might hasten the demise of the church in England.

We manage well enough without him.

Anonymous said...

You don't want a visit from the Vicar of Christ? Hmmm....

Anonymous said...

Have we paid for the last visit yet?

Why not go to Rome and see him there?

What is his purpose in coming?

Anonymous said...

You'd rather he stayed in Rome, 'aloof'? P.S. I saw him there last week. Amazing man.