Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pope's UK visit could include ceremony at Coventry Airport

A LEADING promoter of Pope Benedict’s trip to the United Kingdom this year has dropped a huge hint that the main event of the visit could be staged at Coventry Airport.

The 265th Pope has been widely tipped to come to the UK later this year and despite the absence of an official confirmation from the Vatican, Jack Valero believes it is “in the Pope’s diary”.

And Mr Valero, who was recently appointed as the official spokesman for the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, has suggested that Coventry is in with a good chance of hosting the dramatic finale of the trip.

Peter Jennings, press secretary for the Archdiocese of Birmingham, of which Coventry’s churches are a part, has blogged on the topic, suggesting that Villa Park and the National Exhibition Centre could be more suitable venues for a visit.

But Mr Valero said: “I think it could be at the airport, although I haven’t heard anything official. I hope it’s in a place as big as the airport, I think the airport is potentially a bigger venue than say, for example, Aston Villa Football Club.”

The location of the visit, likely to be on either September 12 or 19, is expected to emerge following the “ad limina” visit of Bishops from England and Wales to Rome later this month.

The itinerary of Pope Benedict’s visit is likely to be discussed and Mr Valero believes that, at the latest, we will know whether Coventry will host him by the start of March.

If the Pope does visit Coventry it will be to beatify Birmingham’s Cardinal John Henry Newman, taking him one step closer to becoming England’s first non-martyred saint since the Reformation.

Cardinal Newman, who died in 1890, spent 40 years in the city after he converted from Anglicanism. He was buried at a small cemetery in Rednal.

For a beatification to take place one miracle has to be attributed to the person, and in 2005 an elderly man said he was cured of a crippling spinal condition after praying to Cardinal Newman.

A second miracle is required for someone to be declared a saint.

“It will be the event of the trip,” Mr Valero said. “It’s the main purpose of the Pope’s visit.”

If Pope Benedict was to visit Coventry he would be following in the footsteps of his predecessor Pope John Paul, who drew hundreds of thousands of people to the airport in 1982.
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