The pope’s visit to Great Britain [a.k.a. UK and to some, albeit erroneously, as just ‘England’] in September 2010, 16-19 September to be precise, now looks like a FIRM ‘GO’ — and you can find the latest itinerary <<here>>.
I am glad. I think it will be good for both ‘sides.’ Six months ago I had my doubts whether this trip would go ahead, but it does appear that concessions have been made on both sides of the English Channel. But, as a Brit, I suspect that there will still be a few fireworks — outside of any displays in the night skies.
Pope Benedict XVI (#266) will be but the second reigning pope to visit this historically dominant nation with 8.5 million Catholics — 14% of the population and the 29th most populous.
The intrepid world traveler, John Paul II (#265), in May 1982 [28 May to 2 June to be exact] was the first reigning pope (that we are aware of) to visit Great Britain. That, however, was not classed as an ‘official’ visit. Instead, it was a pastoral visit. That this visit went ahead, even though Britain had just entered into an armed conflict with the very Catholic Argentina, over the Falkland Islands, must say much about John Paul II’s pragmatism.
So, this upcoming visit is significant from an historical perspective. Hence, this post given our emphasis on papal history.