Pope confirms Scotland visit and Glasgow mass

Pope Benedict XVI: Scotland visit confirmed.
Pope Benedict XVI: Scotland visit confirmed.© Rob & Lisa Meehan

Pope Benedict XVI is to meet the Queen in Edinburgh and celebrate mass in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park during his visit to Scotland later this year.

Details of the Pope's visit to the UK - the first ever official visit to the UK by a Pope - were confirmed by the UK Government and the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Scotland, England and Wales on Tuesday morning.

Buckingham Palace confirmed that the visit will take place from September 16-19. It will be the first ever official Papal Visit to the UK – the visit by Pope John Paul II in 1982 was a pastoral visit only.

On the first day of his visit, the Pope will be received at the Palace of Holyroodhouse by Her Majesty The Queen and is then expected to celebrate mass in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park.

The Pope is not expected to stay the night in Scotland, but will travel on to England, where he is expected to stay in London and give a  speech  at Westminster Hall. He will also visit the West Midlands to beatify the 19th century theologian and educationalist Cardinal John Henry Newman at a public mass in Coventry. 

Full details of the Holy Father's itinerary will be released nearer the time.

IN DETAIL

Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy MP who is leading the preparations for the visit said: "This is an historic visit at an important time. The Pope will receive a very warm welcome from Catholics and people of all faiths.

"As well as providing spiritual leadership to over a billion Catholics around the world, including six million in the UK, the Pope and the Holy See have great influence on global policy in areas such as international development, sustainability and the relationships between religions. 

"The Papal visit represents an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen ties between the UK and the Holy See on action to tackle poverty and climate change as well as the important role of faith in creating strong and cohesive communities. We aim to build further on the positive relationship we have developed in recent years."

Cardinal Keith O’Brien said: "I am thrilled that the Pope has accepted the UK Government's gracious invitation and I am sure he will receive a heartfelt welcome from Catholics as well as members of other faiths and people of goodwill.

"A defining feature of Pope Benedict's teaching has been to remind Europe of its Christian roots and culture and to give us guidance on the great moral issues of our day and it is my hope that we all open our hearts to his words."

In 1982, the previous Pope, John Paul II, celebrated mass in Bellahouston Park during a pastoral visit to the UK in front of a crowd of 300,000 people and in front of a crowd of 45,000 schoolchildren at Murrayfield Stadium.

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