Francis Campbell, Britain’s ambassador to the Vatican, has said that criticism in anticipation of the pope’s visit to the UK is not widespread, nor representative of the views of most people.
“I think it will be a mistake in the UK to take those voices that are the loudest and to assume that they are representative of the broad population of charge,” said Campbell. “There will always be voices that are critical, but it will be a mistake … to assume at those who shout the loudest are deserving more attention.”
According to the British ambassador, Benedict XVI’s visit will boost mutual cooperation in areas such as the fight against climate change, efforts for disarmament and inter-religious dialogue.
The September 16th-19th journey is unique because it marks the first official state visit of a pope to the UK.
Although only 10 percent of the population is Catholic, the Pope has been invited by Queen Elizabeth II to give a speech to all citizens.
The first ceremony of the visit will be a meeting with the Queen at Holyrood Palace in Scotland. He also will greet other members of the royal family and representatives of British society.
The next day in London, he will meet with the leader of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who was in Rome in November 2009.
It will be their first meeting following the decision of the Anglican Church to accept women bishops, a reality which creates new challenges in the ecumenical dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics.
The next day the Pope will meet with representatives of civil society and British political leaders at London’s Westminster Hall.
“What he says would probably be about trying to bring back a sense of transcendence, the sense of God into society. And it will be said right in the heart of government and Britain,” says Edward Pentin, Vaticam correspondent for The Catholic Herald.
The visit will conclude in Birmingham with the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, an Anglican priest who converted to Catholicism in 1845 and anticipated many the ideas to be discussed a century later at the Second Vatican Council.
It’s likely to be a journey marking a new chapter in relations between the UK and the Vatican, as well as a bridge of new understanding between the people and Pope Benedict XVI.