Fr. Lombardi says Vatican is calm ahead of Pope's UK visit

Lombardi UK briefing CNA Fr. Federico Lombardi

Looking forward to the Pope's visit to Great Britain next week, the Vatican's spokesman said on Friday that there is "much serenity" as the date of departure nears. He also highlighted the true and original focus of the trip, Cardinal John Henry Newman's beatification.

The much-awaited papal visit to Scotland and England was presented by the Vatican spokesman at a Friday morning press conference at the Holy See's Press Office. Fr. Lombardi waded through the event-filled four-day schedule item by item, repeating the already public schedule but also offering new pieces of information to the public, including the possibility of a meeting with sexual abuse victims.

It is the 17th trip of this papacy, said Fr. Lombardi, noting that despite what some have said, it is not the "most difficult" trip the Pope has ever made. While there has been a lot of talk leading up to the trip, he added, "there are no particular concerns either on the Pope's part or that of the organizers."

Possible demonstrations against the Holy Father's presence in the country have been publicized through the media, but apparently they have not changed any elements of the trip.

"We are going with much serenity, knowing, though, that it is a very important trip and also complex because of the richness of the events and the situations that will present themselves," said Fr. Lombardi.

Calling the complaints of those against the trip "excessive amplifications," he said that they "have had an echo superior to that which is the true sensitivity of the population."

The last time a Pope visited the U.K. was when John Paul II went in 1982 for seven days, which coincided with the crisis in the Falklands. With that trip nearly three decades behind us, observed the spokesman, this will be the first time many Britons will see a Pope.

Reflecting on the trip being a "state visit," he said that this will not change the pastoral nature of the majority of the events. He underscored the original reason for the trip, the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, emphasizing that this event "remains" the focus of the trip.

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