Friday, December 24, 2010

Pope Benedict's Message to the people of the UK

The Pope has addressed the people of the UK on Radio 4's Thought For The Day, the first time the pontiff has broadcast to the people of one country (BBC News). Here is the text of the Pope's message to the UK (+ Video):
Recalling with great fondness my four-day visit to the United Kingdom last September, I am glad to have the opportunity to greet you once again, and indeed to greet listeners everywhere as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Our thoughts turn back to a moment in history when God's chosen people, the children of Israel, were living in intense expectation. They were waiting for the Messiah that God had promised to send and they pictured him as a great leader who would rescue them from foreign domination and restore their freedom.

God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises us in the way he fulfils them.

The child that was born in Bethlehem did indeed bring liberation, but not only for the people of that time and place - he was to be the Saviour of all people throughout the world and throughout history.

And it was not a political liberation that he brought, achieved through military means; rather, Christ destroyed death forever and restored life by means of his shameful death on the Cross.

And while he was born in poverty and obscurity, far from the centres of earthly power, he was none other than the Son of God.

Out of love for us, he took upon himself our human condition, our fragility, our vulnerability and he opened up for us the path that leads to the fullness of life to a share in the life of God himself.

As we ponder this great mystery in our hearts this Christmas, let us give thanks to God for his goodness to us and let us joyfully proclaim to those around us the good news that God offers us freedom from whatever weighs us down: he gives us hope, he brings us life.

Dear Friends from Scotland, England, Wales and indeed every part of the English-speaking world. I want you to know that I keep all of you very much in my prayers this Holy Season.

I pray for your families, for your children, for those who are sick and for those who are going through any form of hardship at this time.

I pray especially for the elderly and for those who are approaching the end of their days.

I ask Christ, the light of the nations, to dispel whatever darkness there may be in your lives and to grant to every one of you the grace of a peaceful and joyful Christmas.

May God bless all of you!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pope Benedict UK Roundup!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Benedict in the UK - Post-Papal Visit Roundup

  • Pope Benedict thanks Archbishop Nichols for 'fruitful' UK visit - Following is the text (via Independent Catholic News October 12, 2010) of a personal letter from Pope Benedict XVI to Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference England and Wales:
    To the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales

    I am writing to thank you most sincerely for all that you and your brother bishops in England and Wales did to make my first official visit in the United Kingdom such a success. Please extend my thanks to the civil and ecclesiastical authorities who worked so diligently to render my Visit to England so fruitful. I would ask in particular that you convey my affectionate greeting to the people of London who welcomed me so warmly.

    I am very conscious of the significance of the events of those days and the unprecedented opportunities afforded me, both by Her Majesty's Government and by the Church of England, to build new relationships and to strengthen existing ones, including with representatives of other religions. It was particularly moving for me personally to preside at the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Finally, I am grateful for Your Grace's hospitality at Westminster and for the welcome afforded me by the faithful of London, especially the young people and the elderly.

    Invoking the intercession of Saint George and Saint David, patrons of England and Wales, I willingly impart to you and to the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful in England and Wales my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace.

  • The First Fruits: The UK One Month After Benedict - Paul Burnell (Patheos) on the UK's "Benedict Bounce":
    Since the pope's mid-September visit here, there is a definite sense of English Catholics suddenly rediscovering their confidence (the Scots have never lacked this). This emboldened spirit even seems to be emerging from the normally reticent hierarchy. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster (London) in a pastoral letter following the pope's visit urged his flock to make their faith more visible in daily life, by offering to pray for people, by openly blessing themselves with the Sign of the Cross, or by making such remarks to people as "God bless you."

    Now to some, especially in a country as in-your-face religious as the USA, this may seem pretty basic. But in one of Europe's most secular nations, where even an employee of British Airways was disciplined for wearing a cross, this is quite up-front and noteworthy. ...

    The Holy Father's visit began with media hostility and ended in tens of thousands of people -- not just Catholics -- lining the streets for him. Visiting several churches across different cities since his visit, one notes a sense of the foot soldiers in the pews feeling less inhibited about their faith. [More].

  • A copy of the 1,200-year-old book which the Pope gave to the Queen ohas gone on display at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh (BBC News, October 12, 2010).

  • The Official Record of the State Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Great Britain has been published, launched with a special mass at Westminster Cathedral on the Feast Day of Blessed John Henry Newman, Saturday, 9 October.

  • Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has said the silence of 80,000 people praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament at Hyde Park was “something beyond words” (Catholic Herald October 1, 2010).

  • Anglo-Catholicism within the Church of England is dispersing like a cloud of incense rolling down the nave, says Damian Thompson, as those Anglicans taking advantage of Benedict's historic invitation "are already constructing a network of Ordinariate communities that will bear fruit in new Catholic parishes." (Telegraph September 30, 2010).

  • From the Yorkshire Evening Post, an article on some of the ecclesial furniture, which has a link to craftsmen in Leeds (September 30, 2010).

  • Richard Dawkins & Co. = Paisley 2.0? - George Weigel on the pope's UK critics (First Things September 29, 2010):
    The serious anti-Catholic antics prior to the Pope’s pilgrimage to Scotland and England came, not from Ian Paisley, but from “new atheists” like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Fry, their allies in the British media (generally vicious in the run-up to Benedict’s arrival), and their legal show-pony, Geoffrey Robinson, Q.C., a transplanted Australian seeking to export the joys of American liability law to the U.K., as a base from which to plunder the Vatican of what he imagines to be its Croesus-like wealth. These people came unglued in anticipation of the Pope’s arrival: Dawkins & Co. originally proposed having the Pope arrested as an abettor of child-rape, and the op-ed pages were filled with raucous anti-Catholic blather for weeks before Benedict XVI set foot in the United Kingdom.

    In the event, of course, it all came a cropper, to use a local phrase. ...

  • Always looking for bad news, the BBC reports that Cofton Park's grass [is] still damaged after Pope's Mass (September 28, 2010).

  • Bridging the Anglican-Catholic Gap Kevin M. Clarke examines the ecumenical impact of Pope Benedict XVI's September visit to the UK. (Zenit September 27, 2010). On Benedict's praise of John Henry Cardinal Newman as an ecumenical witness:
    The graceful mention of Newman’s fidelity to his conscience is an important one. All too often one hears personal conversion stories in which pastors from other communities desiring full communion with Rome were encouraged -- in some cases even by Catholics themselves -- to remain separate from the Catholic Church to achieve the greatest possible unity. But what is lost in such an approach is the pastor’s duty himself to follow his conscience.

    And this, of course, is why Blessed Newman’s example is so vital. Newman’s ecumenical witness brilliantly illumines the true path to union -- one in which followers of Christ achieve the real unity for which our Lord prays (cf. John 17) by following their consciences, and dialogue and friendship continue in charity and in truth.

  • According to the Irish Post, "the impact of the historic visit not only had a lasting spiritual effect ... but economically it brought financial success to groups including hotels, restaurants, bars, retail outlets and travel companies" -- an estimated .£12.5million to Birmingham alone.

  • Some uplifting photos of the Holy Father’s private visit to the Birmingham Oratory Sept. 19 after he beatified Blessed John Henry Newman. The photographs were taken by L’Osservatore Romano but not seen elsewhere. (Via Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register).

  • "Benedict & the UK; The First Fruits" - another roundup from Elizabeth Scalia (The Anchoress) First Things October 13, 2010.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI's UK visit: further reactions and reflections

  • Benedict's Creative Minority - Dr. Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute, on the Benedict’s vision of the Catholic Church’s role in contemporary Europe (September 22, 2010):
    In the wake of Benedict XVI’s recent trip to Britain, we have witnessed—yet again—most journalists’ inability to read this pontificate accurately. Whether it was Queen Elizabeth’s gracious welcoming address, Prime Minister David Cameron’s sensible reflections, or the tens of thousands of happy faces of all ages and colors who came to see Benedict in Scotland and England (utterly dwarfing the rather strange collection of angry Kafkaesque protestors), all these facts quickly disproved the usual suspects’ predictions of low-turnouts and massive anti-pope demonstrations.

    Indeed, off-stage voices from Britain’s increasingly not-so-cultured elites—such as the celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins and others whom the English historian Michael Burleigh recently described as “sundry chasers of limelight” and products of a “self-satisfied provincialism”—were relegated to the sidelines. As David Cameron said, Benedict “challenged the whole country to sit up and think.” ...

  • Blessed by Blessed John Henry Newman National Catholic Register September 22, 2010. Legionary Father Thomas Williams is a Michigan-born professor of theology and ethics at Regina Apostolorum University in Rome. He was in England to witness the papal visit there and beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. He reflects on the visit, some of the controversy surrounding it, Blessed John Henry Newman and the priesthood.
A pilgrim wears decorated wellington boots as Pope Benedict XVI attends a beatification Mass for Cardinal John Henry Newman at Cofton Park in Birmingham, central England, September 19, 2010. . Source: Reuters

  • Celebrating the Papal Visit online: My pilgrim social media journey (Claz Coms) - Claz Gomez, papal pilgrim and blogger, shares her experience of the Pope's visit as accounted through Twitter, Youtube and her blog.

  • "Mainstream US media asleep on the job?" asks the Pertinacious Papist (September 24, 2010):
    A friend of mine, a retired Hollywood actor, who rightfully prides himself on keeping up with the news, wrote me recently and included a newspaper clipping on the Pope's recent trip to Great Britain. The newspaper article featured a large photo of crowds of placard-bearing anti-Catholic demonstrators and was substantially devoted to only one subject: the Pope's meeting with sex-abuse victims and the outrage of Britons over the sex scandal. If one's news sources were limited to the mainstream print media and TV networks in the US, this is likely all he would know about the Pope's journey to Britain, if he knew about it at all.
    Likewise, Deacon Greg Kandra notes, One of the biggest surprises of Pope Benedict's historic trip to the United Kingdom may be how few people realize that it was, in fact, historic."

  • Philosopher Roger Scruton on why, "for many Englishmen, I suspect, the Pope’s Westminster mass was the first inkling of what Christianity really means". (Big Questions Online September 23, 2010):
    The most positive effect of the Pope’s visit, however, was one that even the BBC could not prevent — and that was the public display of Roman Catholic ritual at its most gorgeous and replete. For many television viewers the mass at Westminster Cathedral was their first experience of sacramental religion.

  • Edward Pentin asks: "Did Papal Visit Signal an End to the English Reformation?" (National Catholic Register September 26, 2010):
    Here was a Pope coming to the United Kingdom at the invitation of Her Majesty, the supreme governor of a church that violently split from Rome 500 years ago. Yet she gave him free rein to address her subjects as he saw fit – even beatify one who left her church to come over to Rome.

    For the first time, a ruling English monarch allowed the Successor of Peter to address her Parliament, attend a liturgy in the church of her Coronation, and even to pray with her archbishop at the tomb of the Royal Family’s patron saint. Her government also hosted unprecedented formal bilateral talks with Holy See officials.

    It was a kind of surrender, a giving up of the Reformation and all it had stood for in terms of rebellion against the papacy.

  • Finally, if it is possible to measure the Pope's success by the complete discombobulation of his critics, carreer atheist Richard Dawkins sputters: "Ratzinger is an enemy of humanity!", displaying all the telltale symptoms of "Benedict Derangement Syndrome."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI reflects on his visit to the UK

During his General Audience this Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI recalled his trip to the UK. Here is the full text | Video:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As you know, I have just returned from my first Apostolic Journey to the United Kingdom, and I wish to send my affectionate greetings to all those I met and those who contributed to the visit through the media during four days, which have begun a new and important phase in the long-standing relations between the Holy See and Great Britain.

Last Thursday, I was honoured by the warm welcome of Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in Scotland’s historic capital Edinburgh. Later that day, I celebrated Mass in Glasgow in the presence of many bishops, priests, religious and a great concourse of the faithful against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset at Bellahouston Park, within sight of the place where my beloved predecessor celebrated Mass with the Scots twenty-eight years ago.

Upon arriving in London, I met thousands of Catholic students and schoolchildren at a very joyful celebration, reminding all of us of the excellent and essential work being done by Catholic schools and teachers throughout the land. I then had the pleasure of meeting the clerical and lay representatives of different religions and of discussing the search for the sacred common to all men.

Pope Benedict XVI waves during his weekly Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican September 22, 2010.. Source: Reuters

Later, I had the honour of calling upon His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury who has come on several occasions to meet me in Rome. Our meeting at Lambeth Palace, in the presence of the Bishops of the Church of the England, was very cordial and fraternal. I then crossed the river to Westminster where I was given the unprecedented opportunity to address both Houses of Parliament gathered in Westminster Hall on the importance of a fruitful dialogue between religion and reason, a theme as relevant in the time of Saint Thomas More as it is in our own day. Finally that day, I had the privilege of kneeling in prayer with the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Tomb of Saint Edward in Westminster Abbey, and of giving thanks to God with the Archbishop, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland and other British Christian leaders, for the many blessings God has bestowed upon our efforts to re-knit the fabric of our Christian fellowship.

The next morning, I had the pleasure of greeting Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Ms Harriet Harman, leader of the Opposition, before celebrating Mass in Westminster Cathedral, with a liturgy evocative of the best of the English musical tradition in the celebration of the Roman rite. That afternoon, I was welcomed very cordially by the Little Sisters of the Poor and the elderly people they look after. There I also had the chance to thank and encourage those charged with the safeguarding of children in Britain. That evening I participated at a beautiful vigil of deep prayerfulness and stillness at Hyde Park with tens of thousands of the faithful.

On Sunday morning, I travelled to Birmingham where I had the joy of celebrating the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Later that day, after a warm and fraternal meeting with all the Bishops of Britain, I was bidden farewell by Prime Minister Cameron during a very cordial speech at Birmingham International Airport on the Government’s wish to build a partnership for development with the Catholic Church and others.

Sunday, then, was a moment of deep personal satisfaction, as the Church celebrated the blessedness of a great Englishman, whose life and writings I have admired for many years and who has come to be appreciated by countless people far beyond the shores of his native land. Blessed John Henry Newman’s clear-minded search to know and express the truth in charity, at whatever cost to his own personal comfort, status and even friendships, is a wonderful testimony of a pure desire to know and love God in the communion of the Church. His is surely an example that can inspire us all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Catholics reflect on Pope Benedict's Visit to the UK

  • Benedict XVI in UK: Bold and Triumphant: Government and Vatican Hail Success of State Visit (Zenit):
    Benedict XVI's four-day state visit to Britain defied doomsayers and the negative publicity that preceded it, bringing out an estimated 500,000 people in Scotland and England as well as countless others who heard his messages in the media and on the Internet.

    Both the government and the Vatican were delighted with how well it went. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said it was a “wonderful visit” and, above all, a “spiritual success.”

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he boards the Alitalia jet to Italy on September 19, 2010 in Birmingham, England. Source: Getty Images

Additional News

  • Every parish to receive image and candle blessed by the Pope (Catholic Herald):
    Three thousand images blessed by the Pope will be distributed to parishes in England and Wales as a legacy of the papal visit, the bishops’ conference has announced.

    The images, copies of the pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt’s Light of the World, will be distributed to parishes in England and Wales, with 145 being sent to prison chaplains. The framed images are meant for use in prayer groups, as well as schools, prisons, and hospitals, and can be obtained through Catholic parishes.

    Also being distributed to parishes are a similar number of candles, also blessed by the Holy Father.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Journey to the UK: September 19, 2010

This is an ongoing roundup of news, commentary and articles. It will be continuously updated throughout the day as content is made available.

What Happened Today?

  • 08:00 - Farewell to the Apostolic Nunciature in Wimbledon (London Borough of Merton)
  • 08:45 - Departure by helicopter from Wimbledon Park (London Borough of Merton) for Birmingham
  • 09:30 - Arrival at the heliport near Cofton Park of Rednal
  • 10:00 - Mass with the Beatification of Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman at Cofton Park of Rednal | Video
    • Homily of the Holy Father
    • Recitation of the Angelus Domini
    • Words of the Holy Father
  • 13:10 - Private Visit to the Oratory of St Philip Neri, Edgbaston
  • 13:45 - Lunch with the Bishops of England, Scotland and Wales and the Papal Entourage at the Francis Martin House in Oscott College
  • 16:45 - Meeting with the Bishops of England, Wales and Scotland in the Chapel of the Francis Martin House, Oscott College: Address of the Holy Father
  • 18:15 - Farewell Ceremony at the International Airport of Birmingham Address of the Holy Father
  • 18:45 - Departure from the International Airport of Birmingham for Roma | Video
  • 22:30 - Arrival at Ciampino Airport
Pope Benedict XVI waves as he conducts a Mass to beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman in Cofton Park, in Birmingham. Source: Getty Images

Addresses of the Holy Father (and Others)
Pope Benedict XVI leads a beatification Mass for Cardinal John Henry Newman at Cofton Park in Birmingham September 19, 2010. Source: Reuters

Coverage of the Day's Events
Pope Benedict XVI is surrounded by Bishops as they pose for a photograph at Oscott College seminary in Birmingham, central England September 19, 2010. Source: Reuters

Blogging the Papal Visit
Pope Benedict XVI speaks with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) before boarding his plane at Birmingham airport September 19, 2010.. Source: Reuters

Additional Articles of the Day

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Journey to the UK: September 18, 2010

This is an ongoing roundup of news, commentary and articles. It will be continuously updated throughout the day as content is made available.

What Happened Today?

  • 09:00 - Meeting with the Prime Minister in the Archbishop's House (City of Westminster)
  • 09:20 - Meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister in the Archbishop's House (City of Westminster)
  • 09:30 - Meeting with the Opposition Leader in the Archbishop's House (City of Westminster)
  • 10:00 - Mass in the Cathedral of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ (City of Westminster): Homily and Greeting of the Holy Father
  • 17:00 - Visit to St Peter's Residence for the elderly (London Borough of Lambeth): Address of the Holy Father
  • 18:15 - Prayer Vigil on the Eve of the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, Hyde Park (City of Westminster): Address of the Holy Father
Pope Benedict XVI conducts a mass in Westminster Cathedral in London, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010. Source: Associated Press

Addresses of the Holy Father (and Others)
Pope Benedict XVI addresses pilgrims gathered in Westminster Cathedral Piazza, in central London. Source: Reuters

Coverage of the Day's Events
Pope Benedict XVI visits St Peter's Residence for Older People during the third day of his State Visit on September 18, 2010 in London. Source: Getty Images

Blogging the Papal Visit
Pope Benedict XVI attends the prayer vigil at Hyde Park during the third day of his State Visit on September 18, 2010 in London, England.. Source: Getty Images

Additional Articles of the Day

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Journey to the UK: September 17, 2010

This is an ongoing roundup of news, commentary and articles. It will be continuously updated throughout the day as content is made available.

What Happened Today?

  • 08:00 - Private Celebration of Mass in the Chapel of the Apostolic Nunciature in Wimbledon (London Borough of Merton)
  • 10:00 - Meeting with the world of Catholic Education in the Chapel and Sports Arena of St Mary’s University in Twickenham (London Borough of Richmond): Greeting and Address of the Holy Father | Video
  • 11:30 - Meeting with Religious Leaders in the Waldegrave Drawing Room of St Mary’s University College in Twickenham (London Borough of Richmond): Address of the Holy Father | Video
  • 16:00 - Courtesy Visit to the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace (London Borough of Lambeth): Address of the Holy Father | Video
  • 17:10 - Meeting with representatives of civil society, academic, cultural and entrepreneurial world, diplomatic corps and religious leaders at Westminster Hall (City of Westminster): Address of the Holy Father | Video
  • 18:15 - Ecumenical Celebration at Westminster Abbey (City of Westminster): Address of the Holy Father
A school girl holds a decorated crucifix and a Papal flag as she watches Pope Benedict XVI at The Big Assembly gathering at St Mary's University College. Source: Getty Images

Addresses of the Holy Father / Others Coverage of the Day's Events
The Achbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams supports the arm of Pope Benedict XVI as he leaves after addressing a meeting of Anglican and Roman Catholic Diocesan bishops of England, Scotland and Wales at Lambeth Palace . Source: Getty Images

Blogging the Papal Visit
The pope arrives to attend a service of prayer at St Mary's University College chapel in Twickenham. Source: Toby Melville. Reuters

Other Articles of The Day

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Journey to the UK: September 16, 2010

This is an ongoing roundup of news, commentary and articles. It will be continuously updated throughout the day as content is made available.

What Happened Today?

  • 08:10 - Departure from Ciampino Airport for Edinburgh
  • 10:30 - Arrival at Edinburgh International Airport | Video
  • State welcome at Edinburgh International Airport
  • 11:00 - Welcoming Ceremony in the Palace of Holyroodhouse
  • Courtesy Visit to Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, in the Palace of Holyroodhouse | Video
  • 11:40 - Meeting with State Authorities in the grounds of the Palace of Holyroodhouse Address of the Holy Father | Video
  • 13:00 - Luncheon with Papal Entourage at the Archbishop's House
  • 17:15 - Mass at Bellahouston Park: Homily of the Holy Father | Video
  • 20:00 - Departure from Glasgow International for London
  • 21:25 - Arrival at Heathrow International Airport (London Borough of Hillingdon)
Addresses of the Holy Father / Others
Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Benedict XVI (R) walk through the gardens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland. Source; Getty Images

Coverage of the Day's Events
Pope Benedict XVI's kisses infant Maria Tyszczak of Poland, as he arrives for mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, Scotland. Source; Reuters

Blogging the Papal Visit
Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful upon his arrival at Bellahouston park to celebraste an open-air mass in Glasgow, Scotland. Source; Associated Press

Other articles of the day
Pilgrims sing as hundreds of people wait for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI outside the Vatican's Apostolic Nunciature in London where the Pope is staying during his visit to Britain. Source: Associated Press

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Anticipating Pope's Visit to the UK - Roundup (September 14-15, 2010)

  • Religious Showdown: Papal Aide Drops Out of Visit to 'Third World' UK, by Nate Jones (Time September 15, 2010):
    Cardinals aren't allowed to make fun of Britain! Only Americans are allowed to make fun of Britain!

    In an interview with the German Magazine Focus, a close advisor to Pope Benedict XVI minced no words in criticizing the United Kingdom, site of an upcoming visit by the Pope.

    "When you land at Heathrow [airport] you think you are in a Third World land," Cardinal Walter Kasper told the paper. He also implied the Christians were at a disadvantage in Britain due to a system of "aggressive atheism" in the country, saying "If you wear a cross you are discriminated."


    Today, Kasper backed out of the trip with the Pope. Vatican officials stated that this was due to illness.

    Papal spokesman Frederico Lombardi sought to put Kasper's remarks in the best light, while others distanced themselves (The Guardian):
    Lombardi said Kasper "had meant to refer to the fact that from the moment of arrival in London airport – as happens in many big metropolises of the world today, but in London particularly because the unique role played over time by the UK's capital – you realise from the outset that you are in a country in which many human realities of the most diverse provenances and conditions meet and mingle; a crucible of today's humanity, with its diversity and problems".

    Lombardi added that, in speaking about atheism, the cardinal "was obviously referring to the positions of certain well-known authors who put themselves forward particularly aggressively and dress themselves up in scientific and cultural arguments, but who do not in fact have the value they show off".

    Last night the Catholic church in England and Wales distanced itself from the cardinal's comments, which a spokeswoman said "do not represent the views of the Vatican, nor those of bishops in this country".

  • "Pope Benedict XVI is the worst enemy of Britain's vicious secular elites" - James MacMillan, reknowned Scottish Catholic composer, goes to bat for the Pope in an editorial for the Telegraph (September 15, 2010):
    When he was elected Pope in April 2005, it was not just musicians who were cock-a hoop. Many had known about this distinguished academic theologian for decades. My first encounter with his ideas and writings was as an undergraduate at Edinburgh University when the then Catholic Chaplain and Dominican, Fr Aidan Nichols was talking about his influence. In those days many young Catholics like me were seduced by the cul-de-sac political romanticism of “Liberation” Theology. It was a huge mistake, and it took the power and charisma of John Paul II to shake us out of our self-indulgent, irresponsible reverie. Joseph Ratzinger too, was a potent voice in warning the Church of its dangers. ...

    [T]he Left, having lost the economic arguments are now channeling all their energies into “reforming” our culture, institutions, public manners and ethical norms. Ratzinger saw this coming when he was exposed to the rabid intolerance of the left-wing 68ers at Tubingen University, ... As has been well documented since, these campus Marxists have ascended to power and influence all over western Europe, and now form the secular elites who control governments, universities and what we read, see and hear in our media. This is why the reception of Pope Benedict in this country has been so vicious, one-sidedly negative and unfriendly. They sense their worst enemy! Literally.

  • Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark has warned Catholic families that “crackpots and lunatics” could still disrupt the papal visit (Catholic Herald September 15, 2010). Coincidentally, as if to validate his fears, The Edinburgh Journal reports that the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland and the Humanist Society of Scotland (HSS) have organised protests to coincide with the Pope’s visit.

  • Edward Pentin (Catholic Herald), on why the Pope’s address in Westminster Hall is one of his most important ever:
    Freedom of conscience, faith and reason, and the positive contribution to society of the faith are the expected themes of the speech the Pope will deliver in the ancient chamber, perhaps most famous for being the place where St Thomas More was tried and condemned in 1535.

    Westminster Hall has also been the site many other historical events, highly significant to British Catholics and to the nation as a whole. Originally constructed by William II (Rufus) in 1097, it was the venue for the coronation banquets of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and Elizabeth I. Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot conspirators were tried there, as were Charles I and Sir William Wallace.

    More recently, it was where Edward VII, George V, George VI, Queen Mary, Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother all lay in state. It is also reserved for the most important addresses: Charles de Gaulle delivered a speech in the Hall on a visit to Britain in 1960, and Nelson Mandela did so in 1996.

    For the government, Westminster Hall will be a crucial event, ...

  • David Cameron has offered a “warm welcome” to Pope Benedict XVI and said his visit would be a “great honour” for Britain (Catholic Herald September 15, 2010) | Video

  • More than 50 public figures have added their names to a letter in the Guardian newspaper opposing the Pope's visit (September 15, 2010). Signatories include "Professor Richard Dawkins, Ken Follett, AC Grayling, Stewart Lee, Claire Rayner, Lord Foulkes, Lord Hughes, Professor Steve Jones, Sir Jonathan Miller, Lord Taverne, Peter Tatchell and Baroness Turner." (Any of those ring a bell besides Dawkins?) -- At any rate, they wish to "reject the masquerading of the Holy See as a state and the pope as a head of state as merely a convenient fiction to amplify the international influence of the Vatican."

    By way of Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, The Catholic League responds to those lecturing the Pope:
    Philip Pullman, of "The Golden Compass" fame, signed the letter. A few months ago, he said, "I hope the wretched Catholic Church will vanish entirely." Atheist fanatic Richard Dawkins, known for charging that the Catholic Church is "the greatest force for evil in the world," signed it as well. Gay activist Peter Tatchell, an organizer of "Protest the Pope," has said, "Several of my friends—gay and straight, male and female—had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy."

    There you have it. The pope’s leading critics are imbued with hate and even associate with advocates of child rape. And they have the nerve to point fingers at the pontiff.

  • As Pope Benedict prepares for his visit to the United Kingdom, speculation abounds as to what he might say. According to William Doino of First Things, clues can be found in a previous speech he delivered, which has been surprisingly overlooked:
    In 1988, the-then Cardinal Ratzinger, travelled to England to give the annual Fisher Lecture at the Catholic Chaplaincy at Cambridge University. The Times of London said it was one of the best-attended theological lectures ever in contemporary England, and for ample reason: it was classic Joseph Ratzinger–Ratzinger at his scintillating best.

    Addressing what he called “the characteristic signs of our time,” he names them: an overwhelming sense of gloom, paradoxically alternating with a naïve sense of “progress;” a spiritual emptiness finding expression in sexual excess and drug abuse; a secular conformism which forbids serious criticism of social immorality (“whoever dares to say that…is put on the sidelines as a hopeless obscurantist”); and—most prophetically—a false and fanatical search for “liberation,” which spurs terrorism: “a real prevention of its root causes has not yet taken place….and, as long as this is so, it can erupt anew at any time.”

    Against this nihilism, Ratzinger proposes the Christian world view, ingeniously invoking that most British of British Christians ... more]

  • On the eve of the Pope's visit, news of a possible second Newman miracle -- Cindy Wooden reports for the Catholic News Service:
    Catholic officials are investigating claims that a severely deformed baby was born in a perfectly normal condition after the child's mother prayed to Cardinal John Henry Newman for a miracle.

    Andrea Ambrosi, the Vatican lawyer in charge of Cardinal Newman's cause for canonization, has revealed in a BBC program to be broadcast Sept. 18 that he hopes the inexplicable healing may be the miracle needed to canonize Cardinal Newman as Britain's next saint. ...

  • Francis Campbell, U.K. ambassador to the Holy See, speaks with ZENIT at length about the expected impact of the pope's visit -- the first state visit of a Pope to the United Kingdom (September 14, 2010).

  • "The expectations and interest of British society is growing," despite some "noisy but always marginal manifestations of dissent" -- that's the word of Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, in an editorial in the weekly program "Octava Dies" of the Vatican Television Center. (Zenit. September 14, 2010).

  • The Popemobile has been displayed ahead of the state visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the UK - and it's a Mercedes. ( September 14, 2010).

  • Tyneside teenager Declan Stokle will be addressing a crowd of more than 80,000 people during the Papal visit to the UK (BBC News, September 14, 2010).

  • The man who was in charge of ensuring Pope John Paul II's safety during his visit to the UK in 1982 recalls his experiences to the BBC (September 14, 2010):
    Being tasked with the role of keeping the leader of the Roman Catholic church safe, just over one year on from an assassination attempt in Rome, he was well aware of the responsibility on his shoulders.

    "In 25 years in the Special Branch it was the one morning that I got up and thought 'I don't want to go to work today,'" he said.

    "It was the morning of the start of the Papal visit and I thought 'hell, what have I volunteered to do' because if it goes wrong it's down to me. ...

    (Please pray for those who occupy the same shoes providing security in the coming days).

  • Breaking news from the Richmond and Twickenham Times -- Richmond’s LGBT forum has launched a last-minute campaign to demonstrate anger at the visit of Pope Benedict XVI (September 14, 2010):
    “We hope that the Challenge HomoPopia campaign will allow all of those who are unable to attend the various physical demonstrations being organised to add their voices to the challenge and, simultaneously, to make a small donation, leaving a tangible legacy to help the victims of HomoPopia.”