London, England, Jul 28, 2010 / 04:39 am
The importance of Great Britain's relationship with the Holy See could surprise critics during the papal visit there this fall. In spite of the complications in planning the joint state and pastoral visit, the U.K.'s special representative for the occasion is predicting it will be a "terrific success."
Speaking to Vatican Radio in an extensive interview, Lord Christopher Patten countered some of the criticism being batted around by the British media in the lead up to the Pope's visit to the U.K. in September.
Lord Patten told Vatican Radio, “I think at the outset, and this is no criticism, people had perhaps underestimated the complexity involved in fitting together the state visit aspect and the pastoral aspects as if they were a seamless whole.
"It's incomparably more difficult arranging the state visit of the Holy Father than arranging the state visit of even, I suspect, President Obama," he said, explaining that preparations for a visit from the president would not include hosting a hundred thousand people at an outdoor venue.
The most recent estimates put the number of attendees at the Sept. 19 beatification ceremony for Cardinal John Henry Newman in Birmingham at 70,000. An evening prayer ceremony in London's Hyde Park and a Mass in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park, are each expected to draw tens of thousands of people.