Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Concerned about the Papal Visit to the UK

Father Ray Blake has spoken out openly about concerns which I too have had. For a papal visit which is due to commence in just over 3 months time, there is surpringly little information being given and nothing being done to prepare our Catholic faithful to give His Holiness an enthusiastic welcome to the UK. In fact, the plan seems to be to limit numbers as far as possible.

I too held the Pentecost Sunday collection but with very mixed feelings. Given that, probably, none of my parishioners will get the opportunity to see the Holy Father, I held it as a sign of solidarity with the Pope, and encouraged the people to be generous as an expression of their feelings of affective communion with him.

Last week I, along with other parish priests, received a letter from our Diocesan Youth Service informing us that it has been decided that one - yes, just one - young person from every parish in the country is invited to attend a special youth event with Pope Benedict. Parish priests are to submit the name of this lucky young person. Just one? Why are we not encouraging bus loads of faithful - young and old - to attend these events?

It would be impossible for me, I think, to select one young parishioner for this event. It would be far too daunting. But I'm pretty sure I could get a group of youngsters - all my servers, for instance, and those who have recently been confirmed - to go together.

Since the centrepiece of the Pope's visit will be the beatification of John Henry Newman, we should be producing easy-to-digest pamphlets/booklets about Newman's thought and spirituality, his conversion to the Church of Rome, etc. This is a real opportunity being missed. Is the Hierarchy embarassed by this visit?

I will be away in the US on sabbatical when His Holiness visits. I feel a bit guilty about not being in Britain to
  1. support the Holy Father and
  2. lead my parishioners in attending the various events.
They also have said they are sorry I won't be with them to lead them at this important time. But I am beginning to feel that I would be ashamed of the poor show that will be offered to our beloved and saintly Holy Father.

Now I see that Damian Thompson has blogged about chaos behind the scenes as Church's costs 'double to £14 million' and about the hijacking of the visit for promoting the Blairite agenda of inter-faith dialogue, blah blah blah. I'm sure there are many who would rejoice at this visit being a failure. I hope the faithful will turn up to events, with our without tickets, and show their support and love for the Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ. They did it for St Therese!


  1. Ernie Skillen02 June, 2010 11:29

    Are the organisers trying to punish the Pope/tell him is teaching is unwelcome by keeping numbers down? There's no sense of occasion in parishes, no talk of the visit, nothing. I thought it was bad idea from the start. It was promoted by Gordon Brown who sought the Holy See's approval of his global debt and development policies.
    At this ratee the protestors will outnumber the Catholics. Sorry for being pessimistic but sadly many Catholics in the UK are of a certain age, perhaps unenthusiastic about the Holy Father and likely to be spooked by threats of protests, and therefore not likely to turn out.

  2. Just a thought about that one ticket, Fr. John...simply ask that each youngster - (aged whatever to whatever) enter their name in a drawing, if they are able to attend. ONE entry per parish youth who would be able to go, and then select the name at random. That way no one can cry "favoritism." And then something can be done by your predecessor for the rest, rally, get together, etc.

    Don't let Eccleston Square run everything! Because they will do as little as possible to make this an exciting event. Those people can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and wouldn't know a "golden opportunity" for a postitive Catholic event if it bit them in the be-UhErYouKnowWhere.

  3. I don't believe he will visit anyway! I've always maintained...would you invite him here?

  4. Fr Peter G Edwards02 June, 2010 13:32

    Dear Father,
    The Catholic Truth Society has just published a whole raft of booklets and leaflets in preparation for the Holy Father's visit, plus others to prepare for the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman.
    Fr Peter Edwards

  5. Like many people I, too, have been perplexed about the relative lack of information concerning the details of the Pope’s visit – and the lack of any preparatory work going on in the parishes, or at least the ones I am familiar with. As far as I can see there is still no information about access to the Mass in Glasgow.

    Will the Pope be using the Popemobile so that he can be seen by people in the streets? Two years ago I happened, by chance, to be in Sydney at the same time as the Pope’s visit. All the streets on the Pope’s route were mobbed with people. The pavements were deep with people. And they were all enthusiastic about the Pope. They waited patiently and in good humour.
    You can see an example at:
    Let’s hope that if he does the same in. say, Edinburgh or Glasgow, that he gets a similar reception. Let’s hope that British hospitality is at least as good as Australian hospitality.

  6. I inadvertently rejected the following comment from Londiniensis:

    The very sorts of people within the English Church who were sniffy about the visit of St Therese's relics (superstitious devotions not in keeping with the "Spirit of Vatican II") and disturbed by its popularity, appear to have been put in charge of organising the papal visit.


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