Church and State Partnering for Pope's UK Visit

Prelate: Benedict XVI Is Enthusiastic, Aware of Trip’s Magnitude

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LONDON, JULY 6, 2010 ( Almost two months before Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit to the United Kingdom, the Church leaders and State authorities are closely collaborating to make the event a success.

Lord Patten of Barnes, who is in charge of the government preparations for the Pope’s State visit, explained this to journalists in a press conference Monday, which he gave along with Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.

The baron, Prime Minister David Cameron’s personal representative for the preparations of the September 16-19 Papal visit, said that the government is «strongly supportive» of the event.

He underlined areas in which the Church and State are collaborating, in particular highlighting «international development» as «one of the priorities of this government.»

In this area, Lord Patten noted that the government partners with the Catholic Church worldwide to address «poverty issues, education and health.»

He continued, «The government sees itself as a partner of all faith groups — including the Catholic Church — in building solid, more resilient communities, dealing with issues of solidarity and social justice.»

The baron expressed enthusiasm over the Sept. 19 beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, which will be presided over by the Holy Father.

«It’s splendid that we can welcome the Pope to celebrate the life of one of the great Englishmen of the nineteenth century,» he said. «Certainly anyone involved with higher education in this country will recognize the extraordinary philosophical role he played in setting out the case for pluralism in education and the role of university.»

Dialogue with modernity

For his part, Archbishop Nichols, president of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales, reported that he recently met with Benedict XVI in Rome, and the Pope is «really profoundly looking forward to these few days.»

«He is enthusiastic but also very aware of the magnitude of this visit,» the prelate affirmed. «He, so elegantly representing a long tradition of Catholic faith, is coming to engage in a modern world leading city.»

The archbishop underlined the historic nature of this visit, stating that «it will be seen in some of the iconic moments and images: the Pope standing side by side with the queen, the Pope entering Lambeth Palace, the Pope speaking in Westminster Hall — where St. Thomas More was condemned to death — the Pope going to Westminster Abbey and praying with the Archbishop of Canterbury at the tomb of St. Edward the Confessor, monarch of this land.»

Archbishop Nichols said that the Pontiff «approaches this visit as an exercise of meeting, of dialogue and inviting consideration and response.»

«He is open to all aspects of our human endeavor,» the prelate explained. «His last teaching document, ‘Caritas in Veritate,’ addressed the financial crisis, education, issues of globalization and the environment.»

The archbishop affirmed that the Holy Father «does all of these things speaking of the enduring values of Christianity, values that still underpin our society.»

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