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 na├»ve 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.”

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