- A TV presenter from Bristol has been chosen to lead a special prayer vigil during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the UK (BBC News Bristol. September 12, 2010):
This "mini-Vatican" is small enough to fit on his chartered jet, but diverse enough to respond to challenges in strategic areas -- including diplomatic crises, security breaches, liturgical snafus, reporters' questions and even medical emergencies.
Many of the key players on the Vatican's traveling team are veterans with on-the-road experience going back decades. But the plane to Britain will also carry at least one "rookie" making his first papal trip. ...
- The Telegraph has a photogallery of preparations for Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the UK (September 10, 2010).
- Pope Benedict XVI will be greeted by "large scale protests" next week (AFP), but the Vatican is not concerned by a "hostile minority’s" plans to demonstrate (Boston Herald):
"It is not surprising because these (protests) have happened before," Father Federico Lombardi said at a Vatican briefing on Benedict’s Sept. 16-19 visit to England and Scotland.
"Such demonstrations have always occurred, also during other (papal) travels, Lombardi said.
In Britain, the issue of protests is "a broader one because in the United Kingdom there are atheist groups, some of them anti-papal in nature, but also this forms part of a plural society like the British one," Lombardi said.
- Among those scheduled to greet the Pope on behalf of England are Nick Clegg, a confirmed atheist and Rev Jane Hedges, canon steward of Westminster Abbey and a campaigner for women bishops in the Church of England. Tony Blair is scheduled to meet Benedict XVI next week to discuss interreligious dialogue as well.
- The 100,000 Roman Catholics expected to attend the pope's open-air "great mass" in Glasgow have been urged by Cardinal Keith O'Brien to endure the "sacrifices" the event will entail -- "Umbrellas have been banned, there will be no seating provided, and pilgrims will have to stay in the park for at least five hours on security grounds." (The Guardian September 9, 2010).
- A tartan specially designed to commemorate the Pope’s visit to Scotland was unveiled at the Scottish Parliament (The Press and Journal September 9, 2010):
Cardinal Keith O’Brien is presenting the blue and green St Ninian’s Day Tartan to Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson and leading figures from the four main political parties. ... The new plaid was designed by Matthew Newsome, director of the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, North Carolina, and made by Ingles Buchan, of Glasgow, and Clan Italia, of Falkirk.
Mr Newsome said he was “thrilled” that his design was chosen as the official papal visit tartan. “The white line on blue field draws upon Scotland’s national colours while the green reflects the lichens growing on the stones of Whithorn in Galloway,” he said. “It was there that Ninian first brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to Scottish shores over 1,600 years ago.”
- The Irish Times report that "tens of thousands of tickets for papal visit to UK unsold" (September 8, 2010). The Church blames
... major problems with the distribution, partly caused by security concerns, and a lack of demand from millions of Catholics.
Individual applications for tickets had to be made before August 2nd – a date insisted upon by the security services and not the Catholic Church, but this caused difficulties because it clashed with the peak holiday season.
Now parish priests are trying to distribute thousands of tickets to schools in a bid to use up their allocations for the pope’s Mass in Glasgow ...
- The Papal visit will be worth an estimated £12.5 million to the Birmingham economy, according to the city councillor co-ordinating event (Birmingham Post September 8, 2010). The good news should blunt another report this week that policing costs for the papal visit could rise to £1.5 million.
- The Catholic archbishop of Southwark, the Most Reverend Peter Smith, met with protesters opposed to the papal visit, securing their promise NOT to disrupt events (The Guardian September 8, 2010):
After talks on issues including child abuse and homosexuality, the archbishop said he had been given a "very clear assurance" that the campaigners had no intention of disrupting any events. "We had an open and frank discussion on the issues of child abuse, homosexuality and the status of Pope Benedict's visit as a state visit," he said.Dashing Richard Dawkin's hopes, leaders of the Protest the Pope coalition now concede that "the Pontiff cannot be arrested as Britain acknowledges him as a head of state, granting him sovereign immunity from criminal prosecution" (Telegraph September 8, 2010).
"I undertook to report to my fellow bishops the particular concerns raised."
- Tuesday, September 7, was the start of parish novenas for the Pope’s upcoming visit to Britain (The Catholic Herald):
The Magnificat booklet of liturgies and events recommends a brief time of silent prayer followed by the prayer of preparation after Mass for the success of the visit, nine days before the visit. There is a more extended version which suggests using readings taken from the lectionary and divine office sections for the Chair of Peter and the feast of St Peter and St Paul or to simply use readings from chapters 14 to 17 of the Gospel of St John.Click here to download ‘Magnificat – Liturgies and Events of the Papal Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.
- Popemobile routes for UK visit highlight Catholic Church's history and future (Catholic News Agency, September 7, 2010). "Pope Benedict's routes will take him through Edinburgh and London, with several stops highlighting the rich Catholic heritage of Great Britain."
- The police and the Church have jointly unveiled the Popemobile's route through London (Catholic Herald September 6, 2010).
- The committee overseeing Pope Benedict’s itinerary in Britain announced their selection of a hip-hop track to be the official youth anthem of the papal visit: the lucky winner is “Heart’s Cry” [Audio], by Catholic trio Ooberfuse (The Independent September 6, 2010):
The band, who all live in London, sent their track to Father Andrew Headon, a member of the Papal Visit Organising Committee which chose the song to represent young worshippers. It will almost certainly be played to the faithful during the Pope’s prayer vigil in Hyde Park, an event which is specifically aimed at appealing to younger Catholics.
Ooberfuse’s track bears a passing resemblance to Black Eyed Peas’ breakthrough single, “Where is the love?” and open with extracts of a speech by Pope Benedict proclaiming that “evil will never reign in the hearts of men again.”
- A substantial part of the Mass to be celebrated by Pope Benedict at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow on September 16 will be said in Latin, the Vatican has confirmed (The Herald September 5, 2010):
In an interview with The Herald, published today, Monsignor Guido Marini, the Pope’s master of ceremonies, reveals the Canon and Preface – the most significant parts – will be said in the ancient language.Damian Thompson crows (The Telegraph September 6, 2010):
Mgr Marini said: “For all the Masses said in the UK the Preface and the Canon will be said in Latin. What the Holy Father intends by using Latin is to emphasise the universality of the faith and the continuity of the Church.”
The Canon is the most significant part of the Mass as it both precedes and follows the Consecration. It will be said in a Latin translation of the modern English liturgy, and will be viewed as a sign of Benedict XVI’s desire to return to the solemnity of the traditional liturgy.
Mgr Marini also revealed a new English translation of the Mass, to be introduced next year, will be truer to the original Latin used by the Church for 1500 years before the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s. Parts of it will be said at Bellahouston for the first time.
Having already stopped liturgical philistines from subjecting the Pope to various musical horrors, he is now sending a clear – and, one suspects, deeply unwelcome – message to English, Welsh and Scottish bishops who actively discourage the celebration of Mass in Latin.At any rate, news of a (substantially) Latin mass was welcomed by Scotland’s leading composer, James MacMillan (The Herald September 7, 2010):
There’s particular fury among the diehard modernisers of Scotland, I gather, who have waged a sneaky battle to banish traditional worship from the Bellahouston Mass. They are now reduced to quibbling about the number of candles on the Glasgow altar, protesting at the Pope’s wish for six or seven on the grounds that… actually, I don’t know. Too Popish, perhaps?
“There’s an element among the priesthood of a certain age who got the wrong end of the stick and assumed Latin, as well as the Gregorian chant, were finished. Why they thought those things I have no idea, but it is now clear they have lost their argument. The Church is moving forward through the nurturing of its long and historic tradition.”
- Secret plans for the Pope's visit to Britain were left in a pub by event organisers who had lunch there -- "The five-page document gives detailed information about the Pope's movements during one of the biggest events of his four-day trip later this month." (Daily Mirror September 6, 2010).
- Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland has accused the BBC of "institutional bias" against the Catholic Church, in an interview with the Sunday Times. The BBC reports:
The cardinal said that senior news managers had admitted to the Catholic Church that a "radically secular mindset and socially liberal mindset" pervaded newsrooms.
He added: "This is utterly at odds with wider public attitudes and sadly taints BBC news and current affairs coverage of religious issues, particularly matters of Christian belief."
The cardinal also voiced concern that a forthcoming BBC documentary titled "Benedict - Trials of a Pope" will be a "hatchet job" on the Vatican.
- Archbishop Nichols asserted his position that UK taxpayers should assist in funding the papal visit (BBC, September 5, 2010):
Critics are angry that up to £12m is to come from the public purse.
But Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols told the BBC it would be a "sad day" when the UK "closes its doors and says we can't afford state visits".
- Pope Benedict XVI is likely to meet victims of child abuse when he visits the United Kingdom next week - so said Archbhishop Nichols (CNN International. September 5, 2010):
"The pattern of his last five or six visits has been that he has met victims of abuse," Archbishop Vincent Nichols said on the BBC'S "Andrew Marr Show."
"But the rules are very clear," he continued, saying there was no announcement in advance of such meetings, which are private and confidential.
Rome Reports. September 8, 2010.
- In a lengthy interview, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster challenges the prevailing stereotype of Benedict as a "reactionary" (September 11, 2010):
He is out there intellectually and spiritually. He engages with the contemporary world but retains an inner peace and a rooted spiritual life. He is a man of real poise, gentle and respectful.
"His view is that the Church should not be a closed place, trying to preserve tradition, but that it should be a luminous place. And he believes the only way the Church can shine is by being deeply rooted. People try to construct him as a conservative pope, but he's not. What he's trying to say is that, as a society, we need deep roots from which to draw this luminosity."
- "Pope visit: A man of deep religious courage" (Telegraph September 11, 2010). The real purpose of Pope Benedict’s visit is to beatify Cardinal Newman. Ann Widdecombe explains why he deserves to be Britain’s first saint since the Reformation.
- Question - who said 'not all sex involving children is unwanted and abusive'? -- Christopher Hitchens has the answer (September 11, 2010).
- Phil Lawler (Catholic Culture) observes a stunning statistic about UK Catholicism:
On the whole, the overall Catholic population is larger today than in 1982. The number of priests, nuns, parishes, and Catholic schools is roughly the same. The number of children baptized is up a bit; the number of adults received into the Church is down a bit.
And then there’s one statistic that jumps off the page ...
- Charles Moore wonders "can't we set aside old hatreds and simply welcome the Pope? " -- and has some suggestions for the media (The Telegraph September 10, 2010):
Next week, both the BBC and Channel 4 will run indictments of the present Pope. A huge to‑do has been got up against the cost of the visit to the taxpayer by people who never normally object to high public spending. Might there not be some more interesting things to consider? How about informing television viewers about the life of John Henry Newman (to be fair, Radio 3 managed a decent programme on the subject), whom the Pope will beatify? How about telling the story of British Catholicism? How about examining what this Pope teaches, and why the official reconciliation between the Papacy and the British state can at last be consummated?
- "The Devil himself could hardly have got a worse press," says the Daily Mail's Stephen Glover, of Pope Benedict's reception from the British media. And, while he disagrees with the Pope's teachings, he believes "those who oppose Pope Benedict XVI's visit who are the real bigots." (September 9, 2010).
- Eamon Duffy is professor of the history of Christianity in the University of Cambridge, weighs in on Pope Benedict's UK visit, recommending that the Holy Father "should seek inspiration from the engaged spirit of Cardinal Newman" (Irish Times September 8, 2010).
- The Guardian takes a photographic look at "the last papal visit to England - by John Paul II in 1982 ("It was the first time that a pope had visited Britain in more than 400 years. His successor is due to visit this month").
- Local BBC stations are profiling papal pilgrims --- BBC Leicester profiles 16 year old papal pilgrim Bernadette Durcan; BBC Birmingham likewise will be following Catholics who plan to make the pilgrimage to see the Holy Father: Miz Gannon, an 18 year old Catholic from Kings Northon; Beata Kobic, "a member of St Michael's Polish Catholic Church since the day she was born"; and Miriam Wilcher, another "cradle Catholic" from Kings Heath. And BBC Nottingham profiles former Anglican David Palmer and Nottinghamshire grandfather Ron Lynch.
- "What a strange thing it must be to be a Catholic in Great Britain at the moment," says David Schütz (Sentire Cum Ecclesia). "It seems like every opinion about the Catholic Church under the sun is coming home to roost in the expectation of the holy father’s imminent arrival." Indeed. From the Guardian Sinead O'Connor fulminates: "Benedict is in no position to call himself Christ's representative. The pope should stand down, the Vatican should stand down ... they're incredibly arrogant, they're anti-Christian. They don't have the remotest relationship with God." Next, we have the Right Reverend Richard Palmer, who in 1999 became the Bishop of what is known as the Reformed Liberal Catholic Church: ""Rome has gone on a side road, which is now a motorway ... we are the continuation of Roman Catholicism as it was prior to Papal Infallibility." Hans Kung has yet to make an appearance -- is he on vacation?
- Cristina Odone wonders: "Will we be converted by the Pope’s visit?" (September 5, 2010): :
... Can Benedict XVI transform the image of the Catholic Church in Britain in his four days here? A poll published this week shows the notion is not as risible as it may seem. People were asked to comment on whether they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements contained in the Pope’s third encyclical letter, Caritas in Veritate. Twelve representative statements, taken directly from the letter, were tested and a significant majority agreed with 11 of them – from “Investment always has moral as well as economic significance” to “An overemphasis on rights leads to a disregard for duties”. A majority even agreed with Catholic teaching about sexuality: 63 per cent felt that it is “irresponsible to view sexuality merely as a source of pleasure”.
Ed Stourton, a lifelong Catholic and the BBC broadcaster who will anchor much of the Corporation’s coverage of the visit, is not surprised by these findings. “People are looking for an alternative to the moral relativism that has become the ideology of today. Benedict is one man who really challenges the status quo: the disillusioned can’t help but be drawn to his words.”