Pope Benedict XVI made the comment when he placed the pallium over the shoulders of Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham

Pope Benedict XVI has said that he is looking forward to beatifying the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, the best-known English churchman of the 19th century, during his historic four-day state visit to Britain, writes Peter Jennings in Rome.

Pope Benedict told Archbishop Bernard Longley that he was looking forward “very much” to the ceremony at Cofton Park, Birmingham, on Sunday, September 19.

After Pope Benedict had placed the Pallium over the shoulders of Archbishop Longley and exchanged the sign of peace with him, the new Metropolitan said: “I am from Birmingham, England, Holy Father, and we look forward to your visit for the Beatification of Cardinal Newman.” Pope Benedict smiled and said: “Yes, I am looking forward to it very much.”

The Holy Father was speaking to the Archbishop of Birmingham when he received the pallium during Mass which was celebrated in a packed St Peter Basilica in Rome on the Feast of SS Peter and St Paul, Tuesday, June 29.

After his homily and before the Creed Pope Benedict spoke directly to the 38 new metropolitans. The Pope said: “And now I address you, dear brothers in the episcopate, who will shortly receive the pallium from my hands. It was woven from the wool of lambs which the Pope blesses on the Feast of St Agnes (January 21). In this way it also recalls the lambs and sheep of Christ which the Risen Lord entrusted to Peter with the task of tending them.”

Pope Benedict continued: “The pallium recalls the flock of Jesus Christ which you, dear Brothers, must tend in communion with Peter.

“It reminds us of Christ himself, who, as the Good Shepherd, took the lost sheep, humanity, on his shoulders to bring it home.”

The archbishops came from countries throughout the world to receive the pallium.
Archbishop Peter Smith, the newly appointed Archbishop of Southwark, also received his pallium during the memorable two-hour ceremony.

After Mass Archbishop Longley and Archbishop Smith were the guests of honour at a special luncheon at the Venerable English College in Rome, hosted by the rector, Mgr Nicholas Hudson and staff to celebrate their reception of the pallium.

Among the lay guests were Lord Nicholas Windsor, Princess Gesine Doria Pamphilj, Francis Campbell, British Ambassador to the Holy See and Archbishop Longley’s sister, Kathleen Lloyd, and his aunt, Jackie Edge.

Archbishop Longley’s personal guests included Archbishop Paul Gallagher, papal nuncio in Guatemala, Bishop David McGough and Bishop William Kenney CP, auxiliaries in the Archdiocese of Birmingham and Bishop Philip Pargeter, retired auxiliary, Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds and chairman of the Trustees of the Bishops’ Committee for the Overseas Seminaries and Bishop Alan Hopes, auxiliary in Westminster, whose episcopal ordination in Westminster Cathedral was on the same day as Archbishop Longley’s, together with priests and religious Sisters from Birmingham, Westminster, Southwark (his home diocese) and other dioceses.

Among the guests of Archbishop Peter Smith was Bishop John Hine, an auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Southwark.

The popular British Ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, hosted a dinner in honour of Archbishop Peter Smith that same evening. The following day he hosted a dinner on terrace of his residence for Archbishop Longley and his guests.

Ambassador Campbell will be leaving his post after the papal visit to Britain. He will be greatly missed in Rome where during the past four and a half years he has almost single-handedly raised the status and profile of the British Embassy to the Holy See and helped to secure a state visit by the Holy Father.

Archbishop Smith and Archbishop Longley in St Peter’s Square after the pallium Mass (Photograph: Peter Jennings)