2010-07-26 17:35:30

Challenges and Consensus Ahead of UK Papal Trip

(26 Jul 10 – RV) There is just over a month and a half to go to Pope Benedict XVI’s historic state visit to the United Kingdom, and preparations for the trip, after some initial difficulties, are now entering the final stages.

In the lead up to the Pope’s arrival in September 16, UK media have been focusing on the cost of the visit on tax payers and on limited capacity in venues for the Holy Father’s public liturgical celebrations.

Lord Chris Patten is the British government’s special representative for the papal visit. He says the nature of papal visits are far more complex than simple state visits:

“I think at the outset, and this is no criticism, people had perhaps underestimated the complexity involved in fitting together the state visit aspect and the pastoral aspects as if they were a seamless whole. Its incomparably more difficult arranging the state visit of the Holy Father than arranging the state visit of even President Obama. President Obama doesn’t go out and meet one hundred thousand people at an open air venue. The difficulties in getting all this together, were I think a little underestimated, but now I think we’re on top of things. I also think it gives us the opportunity to demonstrate that the government of a largely non Catholic country still has a formidably large agenda to work with the Catholic Church on issues of consensus; the Millennium Development Goals, environmental protection, global equity, disarmament issues. Domestic issues, such as strengthening the relationship between faith groups in the community. When we ‘parade’ the importance of this relationship we will perhaps even surprise some people who were critical of this visit in the first place”.

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