2010-09-16 21:40:54

What can I tell you?

Benedict XVI arrived in the United Kingdom on Thursday September 16th.His first day took him to Scotland where he met with Queen Elizabeth at Holyrood House and then celebrated an open air mass in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park. Sean Patrick Lovett is travelling with the pope and filed this report, listen : RealAudioMP3

What can I tell you that you don’t already know? You saw the pictures. You heard the news. You read the stories.
You know that “positivity” was the catchword behind both the Pope’s and the Queen’s speeches in Edinburgh. Both made every effort to stress what Catholicism and Anglicanism share in terms of faith and commitment, and what the Holy See and the British government consider their common aims and ideals. You read how the Pope warned the UK to avoid “aggressive forms of secularism”, yet praised the nation for its tradition of religious respect and tolerance. You know that the route of the papal motorcade was lined with over 100,000 joyfully-cheering, flag-waving well-wishers (not a protester in sight) and that the Holy Father looked completely relaxed in his specially designed tartan shawl – which turned out to be a much appreciated accessory against the chilly highland breeze. You’ve already worked out that figure means one person in five, out of Edinburgh’s population of 500,000 people, was out on the street to see the Pope.
You probably know more than I do about how much the Pope enjoyed the Aberdeen Angus steak he had for lunch at the Archbishop’s house in Edinburgh, and about the touching, off-the-program, meeting with a group of children and disabled people outside the residence, before he left for Glasgow. You heard how the Scots played the bagpipes and danced the hornpipe and sang their hearts out during a Mass attended by a colourful throng of 70,000 in sun-drenched Bellahouston Park and celebrated on the feast of St Ninian of Galloway. St Ninian was, of course, a 4th century convert to Christianity who became Scotland’s first missionary and Bishop – but then you knew that too. I could tell you that the Queen wore black gloves (she wore white gloves when she met John Paul II 28 years ago) or that, despite endless discussion over how much money is being spent on the visit, the total will be less than half the cost of a one-day G20 summit that was held in London last year. But you wouldn’t be interested in that sort of trivia. You want something more substantial.
So what can I tell you that you don’t already know? Very little, it seems. That’s because the media coverage of the papal visit – press, radio and television – is extraordinary, to say the least. Which is quite strange if you think that until only a few days ago opinion polls were claiming most people in the UK didn’t care or weren’t interested in the visit. Obviously someone must care or the media wouldn’t spend so much time and effort on it... Would they?

With the Pope in the United Kingdom, I'm Sean Patrick Lovett

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