4 Page biography of Pope Benedict XVI (#266) prepared especially for the UK visit. << click here >>
This, the first OFFICIAL (as opposed to pastoral) trip by a pope to this 86% non-Catholic (and in the main somewhat ‘secular’) nation, where the still much beloved Queen is the Supreme
Governor of the Church of England [the mother church of the ~75M strong worldwide Anglican Church], could prove to be quite a trip.
This is my third post about this trip, I, as a Brit, having written about it on August 13 and April 22. I initially had my doubts whether the trip would go ahead. I now see that the UK Government is being proactive in trying to protect the pope from potential arrest! Here is a good article by the European Sky News TV channel. That such steps would even be considered portends to the emotions aroused on both sides. But, you have to remember the history. Forget that from 400 years ago. Just looking at the last 30 years may suffice.
Having lived through the IRA bombings, though that was a long time ago, I can recall the silently, stoic mood that we will, in the end, get through this too. I had been (and I think it was in December) to Harrods the day before a car park bomb and had even parked on the same street where the explosion took place. It was probably 1988 or 1989 or possibly 1990. I was doing a 5 day seminar at a hotel overlooking Victoria Station in London. During that stay there were a number of bomb threats on the station. I would be standing there talking to about 60 people on SNA networking, and I could, through a window, see all this police activity taking place below us.
Then there was the Falklands War against what was a predominantly Catholic country, though I do not remember religion ever coming up. We were all too busy venting against the French and their damn Exocet missiles. I still remember, with an insuppressible tingle, the jubilation, in London, when ‘Mission Accomplished‘ could be proudly proclaimed. As the Customer Support Manager for a huge US multi-national I used to have a no-questions asked expense account to take care of our customer base. They sure were in the mood to celebrate and I, for all my faults, have never been accused of not being a generous host.
So there is an interesting undercurrent of history here. The pope knows that, as do the, on the whole relatively well informed, UK public. In the end, despite outbursts of very ‘bad occurences’ [and yes, I was there for Brixton], this is also a vastly integrated, historically tolerant society. For anybody who doubts that, I encourage you to in someway watch some of ‘THE CHOIR,’ on BBC America. Here is a << link >>.
So this is a good watershed visit. Much could be achieved.
Since I was not sure how much the UK people knew about this pope, I decided to put together a pithy 4-page potted bio highlighting (what I hope) are all the salient points. It is a 500K, 4-page Adobe Acrobat PDF. You can get it by clicking << here >>. Hope it comes handy. Enjoy.
Thanks & Cheers.