Pope to Deliver Moral Guidance During Controversial VisitBuckingham Palace has revealed the details of the official visit to Britain of Pope Benedict XVI, the first visit by a standing leader of the Catholic Church in over 27 years.

 

Amid an expected swell of controversy and protest the pope will conduct two public masses, meet the Queen, conduct meetings with Catholic Church leaders and visit the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Coventry and London from the 16th to the 19th of September this year.

 

The pope caused a stir early last month in a letter composed to representatives of the Catholic Church in England and Wales when he condemned proposed legislation by the UK government which threatened to remove the powers of religious establishments to discriminate against homosexuals. The pope stated such legislation offended Christian beliefs of “natural law” and indicated that it established “limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs.”

 

His comments prompted strong expressions of anti-papal sentiment from gay and equal rights advocates, many of whom have pledged to create a coalition to demonstrate their opposition to his visit during the four days in September.

 

The Times reports that Catholic Church representatives have indicated the value of the Pope’s visit to the “morality” of Britain, suggesting that in his four day’s he will “give guidance on the great moral issues of our day” to the people of Britain.

 

Church leaders also demonstrated their intentions to shield the pope from controversy regarding the latest scandal to rock the Catholic Church. It has been found that a German priest continued to preach to children for over 30 years despite having been convicted by a German court on charges of child molestation.

 

The New York Times reports that the actions of the priest, who was only dumped from the church last week, were known and forgiven by the pope who was the Archbishop responsible for overseeing sexual abuse cases for the Vatican. “The church acknowledged that the pope, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, had responded to early accusations of molestation by allowing the priest to move to Munich for therapy in 1980.”

 

The pope’s visit is also expected to be met with a troubled response from religious representatives. A potentially awkward meeting is slated to occur between the Catholic Church leader and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

 

The Anglican leader was offended by the establishment of a special wing of the Catholic Church last year which facilitated the Catholic digestion of Anglicans disaffected by the intake of gay and female clergy. Dr Williams has publicly voiced his support of the papal visit, however the wounds from the recent actions of the Catholic Church are believed to remain.

 

The Pope will begin his UK tour in Scotland where he will be greeted by the Queen at Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, he will celebrate Mass for an expected audience of some 300,000 at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow and also for a strictly invited group at Westminster Cathedral in London. He will also conduct a public service in Hyde Park.

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