Pope Benedict XVI has just touched down in Edinburgh today to begin the first Papal visit to the UK for 28 years. The last time a Pontiff arrived in the UK was John Paul II in 1982, although that was not a full State visit like this time.
The Pope’s four day tour starts with a meeting with the Queen at Holyrood House, before heading to Glasgow for an open-air Mass. He will then head to London to meet politicians and religious leaders; then head off to Birmingham to beatify Cardinal Henry Newman before flying back to Rome. Protests by victims of child sex abuse will be protesting at the visit, as will secularists.
A close aide of the Pope, Cardinal Kasper stirred some controversy by reporting in a German newspaper how there is an atmosphere of “aggressive atheism” that exists in the UK. He also claimed: “When you land at Heathrow you think you’re in a Third World land” due to the variety of ethnicities in the UK. The Cardinal has since dropped out of the tour, citing “health reasons.”
So, do you see the UK as being aggressively atheist? Was the Cardinal right in making those remarks? And what do you think about the visit in general? Should we be making space for faith in Britain?
Please post your thoughts and comments below. For Sarah’s Pause for Thought on BBC radio about the visit, click here.