Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pope to visit UK in September

From The Financial Times-

Pope Benedict will be received by Queen Elizabeth in Edinburgh in September, the UK government confirmed on Tuesday, announcing details of his historic visit to Britain which risks being overshadowed by a snowballing sexual abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic church.

Although the German-born pontiff will not receive the usual trappings of a full state reception, such as residence at Buckingham Palace and a banquet with the Queen, the September 16-19 visit has been accorded “the status of a state visit”, the first for a pope. His predecessor, John Paul II, came on a “pastoral visit” to the UK in 1982.

But its diplomatic significance – in the context of the 16th century schism between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches and the excommunication of King Henry VIII – risks being lost amid mounting protests over Pope Benedict’s handling of cases of sexual abuse of children by priests across Europe.

The Vatican at the weekend responded forcefully to reports in Germany linking the pope to a case of a paedophile priest during Benedict’s tenure as archbishop of Bavaria 30 years ago.

Father Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s spokesman, denounced what he called the “aggressive” attempts to smear the 83-year-old pontiff, and said accusations of a papal cover-up were defamatory. The spokesman said the Pope wanted an ”absolutely rigorous and transparent line” on the scandals.

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