Cardinal O'Brien shares hopes for upcoming UK papal visit

Cardinal Keith O'Brien
Cardinal Keith O'Brien


In an exclusive interview with CNA, Cardinal Keith O'Brien discussed hopes and plans for the Pope's upcoming trip to the United Kingdom, highlighting a recent visit he had with Susan Boyle and saying  “it is hoped” that she will perform for the Holy Father during his stay.

The Scottish prelate also spoke about the Church's preparations for the papal visit, specifically plans involving the country's youth.

Addressing reports that Susan Boyle will sing for the Pope in Scotland, Cardinal O'Brien recalled a recent visit he had with the pop culture sensation. “Susan was with me in my home on Monday when, on behalf of a Padre Pio Prayer Group in Las Vegas, USA, she was presented with a very beautiful rosary with fifty beads, each from a different person and giving a different story.”

“It is hoped that Susan will, indeed, be singing at Bellahouston Park when the Pope is there – incidentally, she sang 'Ave Maria' after we prayed the Rosary here in the Chapel in my own home,” he added.

When asked what initiatives have taken place within parishes to prepare for the visit, Cardinal O'Brien referenced a recently developed fundraising effort throughout dioceses in the U.K to finance the papal trip.

“The Programme for our preparation of our faithful for the Pope’s visit is now beginning,” he explained “Initially, this will be by a reminder collection, with a covering letter indicating that things are now getting under way and much has to be done.”

“A booklet has been prepared, in collaboration with the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, which will be issued throughout our countries – almost half a million of them. The booklet gives both the basics of major questions of our faith along with the reasons for the Papal Visit and its Programme.”

“In particular with regard to certain issues,” he noted, “mention will be made of problems facing us at this present time, especially with regard to our help for the survivors of sexual abuse.”

CNA asked the cardinal if the youth within Scotland are preparing specifically for the apostolic visit, to which he replied, “there is a group representing every Diocese," through the initiative, “Catholic Youth Service Scotland.'”

“They are being involved not only in the Liturgies but in various other ways on the different days of the Pope’s visit,” he added.“It is hoped that a Scottish Youth Cross in eight parts, with eight different woods from our eight different Dioceses, will be part of the Liturgy and blessed by the Pope at the major Mass in Scotland at Bellahouston Park.”

CNA also inquired as to whether or not the cardinal will be present for the Pope's beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, one the of many events slated for the upcoming papal visit.

“As the only 'active' cardinal in charge of a Diocese in England, Wales and Scotland at this present time, I shall not only be attending the Beatification Ceremony of Cardinal Newman but I shall be part of the Papal entourage at all of the events during the Pope’s stay,” said the prelate.

“Incidentally, also, after the Official Reception by Her Majesty the Queen and the Government in the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, the Pope will travel here to my own home for lunch and rest with his immediate entourage, before we travel on to Glasgow for the Mass in Bellahouston Park and then the Pope’s flight to London.”

Cardinal O'Brien also spoke on the new dicastery announced recently by the Vatican which aims to bring the Gospel back to Western societies that have lost their Christian identity. The cardinal said he  is “delighted” at the prospect of the new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.

“I think, however, that it should not just promote the Christian roots of Europe but should promote the Christian roots wherever the faith has already been sown, either for a shorter time or a longer time,” he added. “Consequently, the roots of the two hundred year old approximately faith in the United States of America could also be helped to re-evangelize.”

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