Friday, December 18, 2009

Pope ‘won't stay at Buckingham Palace during UK visit’

During the first visit by a pontiff in almost 30 years, Pope Benedict XVI will also decline to attend a state dinner with the Queen and other dignitaries as well as open-carriage procession, a Scottish MP claimed.

It is understood that Pope Benedict will stay at the Ambassador to the Court of St James, the Apostolic Nunciature in Wimbledon rather than at Buckingham Palace during his visit from 16 to 19 September, The Tablet, the Catholic weekly, reported.

Jim Murphy, a Catholic MP who is Secretary of State for Scotland and heads the government team in charge of the visit, said that while it would have the status of a state visit, the Vatican did not want the trappings that accompany such a visit.

“It’s a unique constitutional arrangement as the Pope is head of a faith and the head of state,” Mr Murphy, who is leading the government’s planning of the visit, told the paper.
“The official title is ‘papal visit with the status of a state visit’.

“Normally state visits include banquets and gold carriages but the Vatican doesn’t want that.”
Pope Benedict XVI's tour would be only the second papal visit since Henry VIII broke with Rome and established the Church of England 475 years ago.

Mr. Murphy confirmed the Pope will spend three days in England and one day in Scotland. It is understood he will avoid visiting Ireland despite pleas from Irish church members, who want him to visit them and apologize in person for decades of child abuse by members of the clergy.

The paper reported a meeting with the Queen, in Scotland, when she holidays at Balmoral, during the Pope’s visit.
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the Scottish Bishops’ Conference had drawn up an itinerary that was now with the Holy See, he added.

“It’s a pretty imaginative mix of public Masses, ecumenical events and other functions,” he said.
“Obviously, however, it’s up to the Vatican to make the final decision on it.”

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, said: “I am delighted to help provide a place of worship for these traditionalist Anglicans, taking the lead from Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor Pope John Paul II.”

A series of events over the course of the visit is likely to attract hundreds of thousands of spectators. There are four million Roman Catholics in Britain.

No comments: