Cardinal Newman's beatification will convey the full meaning of Pope Benedict XVI's message for the papal visit to the UK, the Holy See's spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has said. He added that Newman personified the "profound synthesis of the Christian faith and the British spirit."
Fr. Lombardi dedicated his weekly "Octava Dies" editorial to the topic of Pope Benedict's imminent visit to the UK, examining the most important moments on the schedule.
Noting the Pope's gratitude for the invitation to travel to the UK, Fr. Lombardi said that the Holy Father is well aware of the wide variety of realities preparing for the visit, from the Queen and the British government to the Anglican and Catholic Churches.
Responding to the flurry of protests in the media leading up to the trip, Fr. Lombardi said that "the expectation and interest of British society are growing well beyond some noisy, but still marginal manifestations of dissent."
He added, "The perception, in fact, has confirmed that the great religious and moral authority of the Pope could offer an important, serene, positive and constructive specific contribution, of orientation for the great challenges of the world of today."
In this context, he said that the Pope's meeting with representatives of civil society and institutions is "one of the culminating moments of the trip."
However, he explained, the "complete sense" of the Pope's message during the visit will be communicated at the beatification of the nineteenth-century convert and theologian Cardinal John Henry Newman on Sunday, Sept. 19.
Remembering the Pope's own descriptions of the cardinal, Fr. Lombardi said he was "truly great," rich with "gentle wisdom" and an example of "integrity and holiness of life."
According to the Vatican spokesman, Cardinal Newman is “a source of inspiration for the Church and society in so many parts of the world" and "incarnates in the most convincing way the fascinating fruit of the profound synthesis between Christian faith and the British spirit and its permanent fruitfulness for the world of today and tomorrow."