.- The Holy Father asked the faithful to accompany him on his trip to Great Britain next week by way of prayers. Referring to the focal point of the trip, Cardinal John Henry Newman, he said that the 19th-century prelate continues to be a "source of inspiration" to the contemporary world and Christian unity.
Prior to the recitation of the Marian prayer at noon on Sunday, the Holy Father concluded his catechesis on the prodigal son by noting that he will be proclaiming Cardinal Newman a "blessed" next week. He said, "I ask all of you to accompany me in prayer on this Apostolic Trip."
Just minutes later, in his French-language greeting after the Angelus, he repeated his petition for prayers and said that he is "delighted" to be going to the U.K.
Speaking of the figure of John Henry Newman, he explained that the soon-to-be blessed's "personality and teaching can be a source of inspiration for our age and for ecumenism" that everyone can draw from.
Newman converted from the Anglican Church to Catholicism halfway through his 90-year life and is highly esteemed by the current Pope, in particular for his stand against a culture of relativism.
New head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Archbishop Kurt Koch, commented to journalists last Thursday that the visit will "strongly affirm the close bonds" between the Catholic and Anglican Churches.
The U.K. tour will begin with a meeting with the Queen of England on Thursday, Sept. 16 in Scotland and conclude with the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman on Sunday, Sept. 19.
There is great interest in the occasion also from the Anglican Church. The Anglican primate, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, will meet with Pope privately on Friday and they will both participate in other initiatives throughout the day, including an ecumenical celebration. In a further show of goodwill, Archbishop Williams will also be in attendance for Saturday morning's Mass at Westminster Cathedral.