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Pope’s state visit won’t be a fishing trip, says Nichols

by
08 September 2010

by a staff reporter

THE Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, has said that the Pope will not be “fishing” for Anglicans when he comes to Britain next week.

Pope Benedict XVI will meet the Archbishop of Canterbury next week during the first state visit by a pope to the UK, and the first papal visit for 28 years.

Archbishop Nichols told the BBC that there were “delicate and difficult issues” between his Church and the Church of England. But there would be no “harsh words” between the two church leaders during next week’s visit. The Pope’s creation of an Or­dinariate for those who chose to leave the Anglican Church was made only in response to repeated re­quests.

“Sometimes, people want to say, ‘Oh, this is the initiative of the Pope, who is going fishing for Anglicans.’ That is not true. He is responding to requests that he has received, and those requests we have to handle sensitively on both sides. There are delicate, difficult issues between our two Churches at the moment.”

During next week’s visit, the Pope is expected to shake hands with a female Anglican cleric for the first time. He will be greeted at West­minster Abbey by its Steward, Canon Jane Hedges, a prominent cam­paigner for women bishops.

The cost of the Pope’s state visit continues to provoke comment. Critics are angry that an estimated £12 million will come from public funds (see below).

But Archbishop Nichols told the BBC that it was right that the tax­payer and the Church shared the bill, because the Pope was coming at the invitation of the Government.

“It is a state visit, and the day that this country closes its doors and says we can’t afford state visits is a very sad day, because it would be a real gesture of isolationism,” he said.

He also hinted that the Pope might meet victims of clerical sex abuse during the four-day visit, which starts in Scotland on Thurs­day. The visit will include services in London and Birmingham, the high­light of which will be the beatifica­tion of Cardinal Newman, the former Tractarian.

At least four television program­mes will focus on the troubles of the papacy next week: The Trouble with the Pope, presented by Peter Tatchell (C4); Panorama, focusing on clerical paedophiles, presented by Fergal Keane (BBC1); Benedict: Trials of a pope, looking at the abuse scandal in Bavaria, presented by Mark Dowd (BBC2); and Tonight: Keeping the Faith? on the Church’s reputation, presented by Julie Etchingham (ITV1).

The BBC is providing live cover­age of the Pope’s arrival, the Glasgow mass, and the service in Westminster Abbey.

Leader comment

Features

Pope Benedict on his forthcoming visit:

I AM very much looking forward to my visit to the United King­dom in a week’s time and I send heartfelt greetings to all the people of Great Britain.

I AM very much looking forward to my visit to the United King­dom in a week’s time and I send heartfelt greetings to all the people of Great Britain.

I am aware that a vast amount of work has gone into the prepar­ations for the visit, not only by the Catholic community but by the Government, the local authorities in Scotland, London and Birming­ham, the communications media and the security services, and I want to say how much I appreciate the efforts that have been made to en­sure that the various events planned will be truly joyful celebrations.

I am aware that a vast amount of work has gone into the prepar­ations for the visit, not only by the Catholic community but by the Government, the local authorities in Scotland, London and Birming­ham, the communications media and the security services, and I want to say how much I appreciate the efforts that have been made to en­sure that the various events planned will be truly joyful celebrations.

Above all, I thank the countless people who have been praying for the success of the visit and for a great outpouring of God’s grace upon the Church and the people of your nation.

Above all, I thank the countless people who have been praying for the success of the visit and for a great outpouring of God’s grace upon the Church and the people of your nation.

It will be a particular joy for me to beatify the Venerable John Henry Newman in Birmingham on Sunday 19 September. This truly great Eng­lishman lived an exemplary priestly life and through his extensive writ­ings made a lasting contribution to Church and society both in his native land and in many other parts of the world. It is my hope and prayer that more and more people will benefit from his gentle wisdom and be in­spired by his example of integrity and holiness of life.

It will be a particular joy for me to beatify the Venerable John Henry Newman in Birmingham on Sunday 19 September. This truly great Eng­lishman lived an exemplary priestly life and through his extensive writ­ings made a lasting contribution to Church and society both in his native land and in many other parts of the world. It is my hope and prayer that more and more people will benefit from his gentle wisdom and be in­spired by his example of integrity and holiness of life.

I look forward to meeting rep­resentatives of the many different religious and cultural traditions that make up the British population, as well as civil and political leaders. I am most grateful to Her Majesty the Queen and to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury for re­ceiving me, and I look forward to meeting them.

I look forward to meeting rep­resentatives of the many different religious and cultural traditions that make up the British population, as well as civil and political leaders. I am most grateful to Her Majesty the Queen and to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury for re­ceiving me, and I look forward to meeting them.

While I regret that there are many places and people I shall not have the opportunity to visit, I want you to know that you are all re­mem­bered in my prayers. God bless the people of the United Kingdom!

While I regret that there are many places and people I shall not have the opportunity to visit, I want you to know that you are all re­mem­bered in my prayers. God bless the people of the United Kingdom!

THE British public is more dis­engaged from than hostile to the Pope’s visit, two polls have sug­gested.

An Ipsos-MORI poll for The Tablet found that, of those asked, only one quarter supported the visit. Two-thirds neither supported nor opposed it. A second survey, for the think tank Theos, found that one quarter of its respondents did not approve of the visit.

The Theos survey also asked about statements contained in a papal encyclical. A significant ma­jority of respondents agreed with 11 statements on the environment, human rights, and economics, and even on Roman Catholic teaching about sexuality. The only statement that a majority disagreed with was: “Poverty is often produced by a rejection of God’s love.”

Most concerns were expressed about the £12-million cost of the visit: 76 per cent said that taxpayers should not be helping to meet it.

In the Tablet poll, 52 per cent said that religion was a force for good; when respondents were asked spec­if-ically about the RC Church, this figure dropped to 41 per cent. Among Anglicans, even fewer agreed: just 39 per cent.

On the child-sex-abuse scandal, 55 per cent said that the Church had responded very badly or fairly badly.

The Pope was more instantly re­cognisable to respondents than the Archbishop of Canterbury: 65 per cent recognised him straight away, compared with only 50 per cent for Dr Williams.

On faith schools, half said reli­gious organisations should be al­lowed to run schools. More than half of those asked knew about the Act of Settlement: 44 per cent (64 per cent of RC respondents) thought it wrong.

THE British public is more dis­engaged from than hostile to the Pope’s visit, two polls have sug­gested.

An Ipsos-MORI poll for The Tablet found that, of those asked, only one quarter supported the visit. Two-thirds neither supported nor opposed it. A second survey, for the think tank Theos, found that one quarter of its respondents did not approve of the visit.

The Theos survey also asked about statements contained in a papal encyclical. A significant ma­jority of respondents agreed with 11 statements on the environment, human rights, and economics, and even on Roman Catholic teaching about sexuality. The only statement that a majority disagreed with was: “Poverty is often produced by a rejection of God’s love.”

Most concerns were expressed about the £12-million cost of the visit: 76 per cent said that taxpayers should not be helping to meet it.

In the Tablet poll, 52 per cent said that religion was a force for good; when respondents were asked spec­if-ically about the RC Church, this figure dropped to 41 per cent. Among Anglicans, even fewer agreed: just 39 per cent.

On the child-sex-abuse scandal, 55 per cent said that the Church had responded very badly or fairly badly.

The Pope was more instantly re­cognisable to respondents than the Archbishop of Canterbury: 65 per cent recognised him straight away, compared with only 50 per cent for Dr Williams.

On faith schools, half said reli­gious organisations should be al­lowed to run schools. More than half of those asked knew about the Act of Settlement: 44 per cent (64 per cent of RC respondents) thought it wrong.

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