By the time our next issue arrives in parishes, the Popemobile will be threading its way across London. On the evening of Friday, September 17, Benedict XVI will ride from Lambeth Palace to Westminster Hall via Lambeth Bridge and along Millbank, on the north side of the Thames. The following evening, the Popemobile will take the Holy Father to the Hyde Park prayer vigil, past Buckingham Palace and through some of central London’s most famous streets. The Popemobile will have had its first outing in Edinburgh a day earlier, when it travels from Holyrood Palace along Abbeyhill, Regent Road, Princes Street, Lothian Road, Tollcross and Morningside to Cardinal O’Brien’s official residence.
The reception that Pope Benedict receives as he drives through our streets will tell us much about our society. If the faithful fill the streets and greet the Pontiff with applause and cries of support then the watching world will see that the faith of those who gave up their lives hundreds of years ago is alive and well in Britain. It is easy to fall into the trap of blaming others for the difficulties of the Church. But we will only have ourselves to blame if the Popemobile speeds through thin crowds next week.
We are confident that this will not be the case. We believe that, despite all the mishaps and difficulties along the way, Britain’s Catholics will rise to the occasion of the papal visit and give Benedict XVI the warm welcome he deserves.