Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Guest Post on the Papal Visit in the UK

My young English friend, John H., the founder of "A Vocation to be a Priest" has gathered his thoughts about the recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Great Britain and kindly shares them here...

During and after the visit of Pope Benedict to Britain, I am so proud to be a Catholic, but especially an English Catholic! There has been a Christian presence in these isles for 1500 years and our land has probably produced more saints and martyrs than any other country on earth. At long last I know what Blessed John Henry Newman understood when he wrote "I am a link in a chain".

Pope Benedict made a State visit to the UK rather than a pastoral visit - that means he was invited by Queen Elizabeth and Her Government. While I was only able to be physically present at one event (Hyde Park in London), I followed every single event on BBC TV which was truly outstanding. The warmth of welcome by the Queen was commented by all, and the Holy Father managed to win many hearts and souls by his humility and warmth and by his message. He addressed many political leaders in Westminster Hall (including four former Prime Ministers) and told them to be aware of rampant secularism which denies the voice of the Church and the Gospel in the affairs of State. This was especially significant because Westminster Hall was the place where St Thomas More was tried for putting his conscience before Government.

Talking about secularism - it was a washout - a total and abject failure. The protests against the Holy Father amounted to a pathetic 5000. At the same time 240,000 people lined the streets of London to greet him, wave flags, while 80,000 joined the Vigil in Hyde Park. This was outstanding - in the middle of a great and huge city, there was total silence as we adored Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Even the skeptical secular press was won round, who had predicted that the Papal visit would be a disaster, with nobody turning out.

The Holy Father had a punishing schedule, which included a visit to a retirement home, and a meeting with victims of clerical abuse. But for me, he won the hearts of everyone in his interaction with young people - they simply loved him! He told us that we were created for love and that is where we should seek our vocation.

It is reported by our Bishops that the visit was highly successful - the Pope has encouraged us, but he has been amazed at the vibrancy of Catholics in the UK.

You may know that we have a special link to the USA - the miracle from Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman was via a Deacon in Boston.

As our Bishops have indicated - we now need to think about keeping alive the momentum of the Papal visit.


  1. Thank you for sharing this positive news about our Holy Father. Great to hear from someone who was there! God Bless.

  2. Thanks so much for posting this Anne, I wish I could send you the high-definition Blu-Ray disks I was given of Pope Benedict's State visit to the UK. All the liturgies were stunning and they were all celebrated in the Ordinary Form (with some parts in Latin). The Bishops asked a young Scottish composer to write new music, and it was impressive and uplifting. His name is James Macmillan. Maybe your good friends in the USA could 'Google' for his liturgical settings.

  3. How blessed you are to have had a visit from the Holy Father! I live in Canada, and am going on a pilgrimmage to the holy places of Italy in February, which will include an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. Of all the items on our agenda, seeing the Holy Father will be one of the highlights! You have been so blessed that he came to you!

  4. Thank you for this article. I'm too excited for English Catholics. I feel like we (Americans and Brits) are on the brink of something great.

  5. Thanks for this post, Anne. In recent weeks I too was interested in what British Catholics were thinking up to, during, and after the Holy Father's visit. I found a site of British Catholic Blogs and was wandering there, but it was in perusing new blogs on the Catholic Blog Directory that I found this one: onetimothyfour.blogspot.com.

    Check it out, and be sure to drop down to the post on Sept 5, 2010. It's awesome!

  6. Wonderful post by your friend John. I found his writing to be both joyful in spirit and hopeful for the holy Catholic Church in the UK! I love hearing how the streets were lined up with so many welcoming the Holy Father!!!

    God bless

  7. Thanks, everyone, for your comments! DNBA aka Tom, thanks for the heads up on onetimothyfour. National Catholic Register blog had a similar post today about stay at home moms. It seems the working world holds quite a grudge against those who put the priority on raising their children.

  8. I've posted some videos of the Pope's visit to the UK on my Blog if anyone is interested. Check on the links on the right of the Blog for the month of September (dates of visit).

    God bless.