(Vatican Radio) The United Kingdom is this week marking the fifth anniversary of the apostolic visit to the country made by Pope Benedict XVI.
The trip, from 16-19 September 2010, was the first ever official Papal State Visit to the UK, as Pope John Paul II’s visit was a pastoral one.
During his four-day trip, Pope Benedict visited both Scotland and England, and beatified Cardinal John Henry Newman.
To mark the 5th anniversary, the British Ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker, said the State Visit “took our bilateral relationship to a new level”, adding the UK and the Holy See have built on it since then, “through Royal, ministerial and official visits and an intense bilateral engagement on the issues that matter - the Middle East, Ukraine, climate change, human rights, poverty and international development, human trafficking, geo-political conflict.”
“The 2010 State Visit looked to the future; to how the UK and the Holy See might co-operate better to improve our planet, tackle poverty, and contribute to the common good,” he added. “That objective remains as relevant and as necessary today as it did five years ago”.
Ambassador Baker called the Holy See the “world’s most extensive soft power network.”
“Arguably, Pope Francis is the only truly global figure in world affairs today,” said Ambassador Baker. “And only a Pope could have made a speech like that of Benedict XVI at Westminster Hall, the cradle of democracy, in which he called on ‘the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief…to enter into profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of civilization’.”
The Ambassador also reflected on the legacy of The Papal Visit.
“Pope Francis understands implicitly the importance of the Holy See’s global dimension,” Ambassador Baker said. “Top level engagement, like the 2010 State Visit and The Queen’s visit to the Holy See in 2014, provide the canopy beneath which our bilateral and global relationship is flourishing.”
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