One year ago this week, Pope Benedict was greeted by Queen Elizabeth at the start
of his historic state visit to England and Scotland, a 4 day visit that culminated
with the beatification of the 19th century Cardinal John Henry Newman,
a prominent Anglican churchman who converted to Catholicism. Other key moments
of the papal visit last September were a prayer vigil with young people in London’s
Hyde Park and the Pope’s address to Britain’s political movers and shakers in the
Hall of Westminster.
So how does the local Church view the impact of that
historic papal visit, 12 months later? Susy Hodges spoke to Bishop Kieran Conry of
Arundel and Brighton in southern England, Chair of the Department for Evangelisation
and Catechesis. He said one of the main benefits of the papal visit to Britain was
that it helped Catholics to be more confident in their faith and it "significantly
changed peoples' perception of the Catholic Church generally." Bishop Conry said
"there had been a suspicion or a feeling that the Church was being increasingly marginalised
(in Britain) but I think the Pope's visit changed all that."
One of the hundreds
of thousands of young Catholics who attended the prayer vigil with the pope in London’s
Hyde Park last September was 21 year old Lucy Jenkinson who’s just graduated from
university. She said seeing the pope in person and attending the vigil and the mass
at Westminister Cathedral "was a really positive expereience" that helped her "consolidate"
her faith and gave her "more confidence" to talk about it.
Listen to the
full interviews with Bishop Kieran Conry and Lucy Jenkinson by Susy Hodges: