UK Bishops Explain Why Papal Visit Is Historic

Emphasize Feeding Heart and Mind

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LONDON, JULY 1, 2010 ( The U.K. bishops are preparing for Benedict XVI’s historic Sept. 16-19 visit with the publication of resources designed to answer questions about the Pope and the Church.

A booklet was distributed in parishes throughout England, Wales and Scotland, with responses to common questions such as: «Why is the Pope meeting the Queen? What has the Pope got to say about how our society works? How do I connect with God?» and «So what is the Catholic Church for?»

The preface, signed by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales, and Cardinal Keith O’Brien, president of the Scottish bishops’ conference, noted that «today there are many gaps in public knowledge» about «the call of faith, about its unfolding in daily life, about the role of the Catholic Church.»

It continued: «This booklet seeks to address those gaps, not in a profound or systematic manner but just by way of some clear facts and indications.

«They will be helpful in preparation for this Papal visit: helpful to those who are curious, helpful to those who need to understand a little more, helpful to those who are looking forward intently to these historic days.»

The introduction to the booklet noted that John Paul II already made history in 1982 as the «first Pope to set foot on these islands in centuries.»

It explained that Benedict XVI’s visit will now «cement the goodwill which has grown since and open a new chapter,» as the Pontiff addresses «the entire population, at the request of the Queen.»

It added that this is «truly history in the making» as it is the first time a Pope has visited the United Kingdom at the queen’s invitation.

John Paul II came «as the leader of the Catholic Church and its chief pastor to greet and address the Catholic community here and, above all, to pray,» the booklet noted. «The visit of Pope Benedict will be different.»

It explained that as a guest of the queen, the Pontiff «comes primarily as a visitor to all the people of the United Kingdom, not just those who are Catholics,» and «on more than one occasion he will speak to the nation as a whole.»

Shared goals

In this way, the booklet noted, the Holy Father will encourage exchanges between the Church and «enlightened political leaders,» emphasizing shared goals for the common good.

«It is not easy to convey the richness of the tradition of Catholic thought, and Catholicism can easily become defined in the public mind in the light of one or two current controversies,» it noted.

For this reason, the booklet, which is also available online, attempts to inform the public about the truths of the Church.

In a press release, Archbishop Nichols explained: «We are looking to spell out the richness of Catholic tradition and also the enormous contribution of the Catholic Church to this country and around the world.

«It is important to explain who the Pope is so people can better appreciate this historic visit.»

In fact, the bishops also distributed parish resources to aid catechists and educators in the task of preparing the faithful for this upcoming event.

The prelates noted in their preface that «heart and mind need to go together,» and the Holy Father comes to make an «invitation to faith in God and faith in Jesus Christ,» which is «spoken in the language of the heart.»

In this sense, they referred to the theme of the visit, «Heart Speaks Unto Heart,» from the words of Cardinal John Henry Newman, who will be beatified in those days.

The prelates concluded by asking for prayers for the success of the upcoming Papal visit, affirming that «the first fruit of faith in God is prayer.»

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On the Net:

U.K. Papal visit Web site:

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