Date set for Pope's visit to Britain

Coventry, Glasgow and London will all play host to the Pope and his bullet-proof “pope mobile” this autumn as the details of his much anticipated state visit were finally confirmed by Buckingham Palace earlier today.

Benedict XVI, who is currently struggling to contain a string of fresh clerical abuse allegations in Europe and Central America, will fly into Edinburgh on 16 September to be received by the Queen at Holyroodhouse before journeying to Glasgow to hold a major open-air mass in Bellahouston Park.

The following day he will travel to Coventry to preside over the beatification of Cardinal Newman, before moving onto the capital to deliver a landmark speech.

It is only the second visit to Britain by a Pope and represents the first time that the leader of the Catholic Church has made an official papal visit to the UK. John Paul II’s visit in 1982 was a strictly pastoral affair which won the Polish-born pontiff reams of admirers in a corner of the world that has long been regarded by Vatican traditionalists as a bastion of anti-papists.

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy, the Catholic MP who is leading the preparations for the visit, said non-policing costs for the four day trip would run to £15m. Tax payers usually pick up the bill for state visits but the Catholic Church said today that it would help pay for the pastoral elements such as any open air masses and the beatification of Cardinal Newman.

Policing costs will have to be met from existing budgets, however, with no extra funds available for those forces that will have to provide security throughout the four day visit.

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster and the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, described the upcoming visit as an “historic” occasion that would bring one of the world’s most influential leaders to Britain.

“It takes us into new territory,” he said. “This is a visit of a leader of probably the oldest institution in the world with a diplomatic reach that is as rich as anybody’s, if not more. One only has to look at the 200 state leaders who attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II to have a glimpse of diplomatic reach of the Holy See.”

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, said the Pope would look to “remind Europe of it Christian roots and culture” as well as give “guidance on the great moral issues of our day.”

"It is my hope that all who are prepared to listen to him will open their hearts to his words,” he said.

When John Paul touched down at Gatwick airport in 1982, kissing the ground as he stepped off the plane, he instantly won over devotees and non-believers alike who turned out to attend his open air masses in their tens of thousands.

Like Benedict, John Paul had only been pope for little under half a decade when he made his trip to Britain, but he had already won widespread praise outside the Catholic Church for his ecumenical approach to other faiths and his approachable personality.

Benedict’s visit will take place in a very different atmosphere. Since becoming Pope in 2005, Joseph Ratzinger has guided the Catholic Church along a more traditionalist and conservative path. He has also upset both Jews and Muslims with a series of public gaffes.

The Vatican is also currently battling a whole new raft of historical and current abuse scandals, the most recent of which have emanated out of Germany, Holland and Mexico in recent weeks.

One of Ireland’s top Catholics, Cardinal Sean Brady, is also under intense pressure to resign after it emerged this week that he had attended two meetings where child abuse victims had signed vows of silence over complaints against a serial clerical sex abuser.

At a press conference announcing the state visit this afternoon, Cardinal O’Brian was somewhat taken aback by an Irish reporter asking if the Pope’s “moral guidance” would include publicly talking about child abuse during his visit.

“Well obviously I don’t know what the Pope is going to say and I don’t suppose he knows what he’s going to say as yet,” he said. ”We are quite a different country from Ireland, France or wherever else and I basically don’t know whether or not he will be addressing that particular subject.”

Archbishop Nichols, who won praise in the late 1990s for taking a hard stance against clerical abusers, added: “In this country and in Scotland we have dealt with issues of clerical sexual abuse for the last twelve years and I believe we have robust procedures in place. The abuse of any one child by anybody is a tragedy and it is unacceptable. But I believe people in this country will recognise in the Pope an eloquent, a gentle and profound teacher of all that is right and just.”

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Education Recruitment Consultant- Learning Support

£18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star