.- "We hope that the illuminating presence of Benedict XVI might help many in our lands to understand that faith in God is not a problem to resolve, but a gift to rediscover," wrote the head of the bishops of England and Wales on Friday. Several key moments during the Pope's visit will offer a platform for him to emphasize the importance of bringing God into public life, the archbishop explained.
With less than a month to go before Pope Benedict XVI's Sept. 16-19 state visit to the U.K., the Primate of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, reflected on some important moments of the trip and their significance.
His comments on the "historic event" were published in Friday's edition of L'Osservatore Romano newspaper and come shortly after the Vatican released the official schedule for the papal visit.
The first event on the schedule, the Pope's visit to the Queen of England at her summer residence, "marks a new phase" in relations between the two sides, Archbishop Nichols said. They will have much to speak about, he observed, pointing to their shared concern "for the well-being of the peoples of the world, for the role and value of Christian teaching and the importance of having stable institutions for the benefit of society."
These interests will be seen as themes of different encounters throughout the trip. During the Pope's meeting with representatives of Catholic schools on the second day of the visit, for example, he will have the chance to emphasize the importance of religious education to society.
Turning to the meeting with business leaders afterwards, Archbishop Nichols said that the Pope will speak about "the importance of God as a formative and inspirational guide for the common good."
And that afternoon, noted the archbishop, the Pope's encounter with leaders of civil society in Westminster Hall will have "great resonance, not only for its historic value" as the place where St. Thomas More was condemned to death for his refusal to compromise his beliefs, "but also for its actuality."
Commenting on the subject of the final major event on the schedule, the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, Archbishop Nichols said that Cardinal Newman was a "man that understood how mind and heart should go hand in hand in the great enterprises of life, the greatest of which is the search for God and the salvific relationship with Him."
The archbishop summarized the expectations for the U.K. visit, saying, "We hope that the illuminating presence of Benedict XVI might help many in our lands to understand that the faith in God is not a problem to resolve, be a gift to rediscover."
Noting that the faith has become something to be hidden for many people in the U.K. today, he observed, "the reality is very different: faith in God brings great riches and joy to men. He is the liberation and the guide that we seek, motive for inspiration and perseverance, source of forgiveness and compassion."