London Prelate: Papal Visit Will Be "Quite Different"

Affirms Expectation of a Reaching Out to Society

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LONDON, MAY 18, 2010 ( The archbishop of Westminster says he is expecting a papal visit quite different than Pope John Paul II’s six-day tour in 1982.

In an address May 4 at the Diocese of Westminster’s seminary, Archbishop Vincent Nichols responded to a question from the press about Benedict XVI’s plans to visit England in September.

The archbishop said the trip will be «quite different» than the last papal visit. John Paul II, he suggested, came to «visit the Catholic community to celebrate its sacraments and strengthen them in faith.» The first images of Benedict XVI in England, meanwhile, will be with the queen.

«This has never been seen before, so it is a continuation, if you like, of that healing of an ancient tension,» Archbishop Nichols said. «And here is the Pope invited by the monarch to address the people. And he is a Pope with a vision that is so deeply rooted in a clear inspired understanding of humanity that he will know how to speak to a European capital city — a world capital city — in which so many different influences are found, so many different faiths ebb and flow, and so much misunderstanding exists about the possibilities around religious belief.»

The prelate noted how on one day of the Pope’s stay in England, he will not celebrate a public Mass. That day will include a «vitally important interfaith initiative which actually will be focused on leadership in the community, not so much on interfaith dialogue, but how does faith energize these leaders in our society,» the archbishop said.

«And that’s what the Catholic Church wants to be seen to do,» he proposed, «to bring leaders who are inspired by faith together to explore that dynamic between leadership. […] That leadership with the inspiration of faith.»

Casting light

Archbishop Nichols further pointed to the historical milestones in Benedict XVI’s schedule.

He will speak from Westminster Hall for what the prelate called «possibly the most important address of the whole visit.»

«In that historic setting which captures so much of the history of this country, which poignantly is the place where Thomas More was condemned to death,» the archbishop noted, «he will address civic society, and I’m quite sure will start at the point at which everybody can enter.

«And he will encourage, he’ll invite, he will as you were try to cast a bit of light.»

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