During his visit to Britain, Pope Benedict will meet the former Equality Minister

Pope Benedict will meet the former Equalities Minister Harriet Harman during his visit to Britain.

The Pope is scheduled to meet Ms Harman, now the Acting Leader of the Opposition, as part of a courtesy call from the country’s leading politicians. This was revealed as the full schedule for the Pontiff’s visit was made public earlier today.

Pope Benedict severely criticised some of the equality legislation that was passed under Ms Harman in his ad limina address to the Bishops of England and Wales earlier this year.

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Other details of the Pope’s visit include an early start from the Ciampino Airport in Rome in order to get to Edinburgh at 10.30am.

On Friday, the Pope will celebrate Mass privately in the nunciature before heading to St Mary’s Twickenham for the education event and a day packed with ecumenical events and interreligious dialogue.

In the morning on Saturday, Pope Benedict will meet Prime Minister David Cameron in Archbishops House as well as holding subsequent meetings with the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and the Acting Leader of the Opposition Harriet Harman.

The Pope will celebrate Mass at Westminster Cathedral and greet the young people gathered on the Cathedral piazza. In the afternoon, he will visit St Peter’s Residence for older people in Vauxhall where he will give a speech.

Mgr Andrew Summersgill, the papal visit coordinator, said: “The importance of this visit is that within all the great gatherings and events of the papal visit there’s a real opportunity for the Holy Father to go as a pastor to those who cannot go to him – to those who are housebound, to those who are elderly.

“And it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the pastoral care that is given, day in day out, by so many people in the Church. I also think it’s a chance to underline the importance the Church places, and particularly Pope Benedict places, in his own teaching and ministry, in the value of life – the value of life from its beginning to its natural end. To visit a home where those who are coming towards the end of their life are cared for both spiritually and physically is a real value and sign to our community and our society. It’s a great thing for the Holy Father to do while he’s here.”

That evening is the biggest open-air event in England and Wales, the vigil in Hyde Park.

On Sunday, Pope Benedict will be helicoptered to Birmingham where he will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman. He will give the homily and pray the Angelus, before paying a private visit to Newman’s Oratory in Edgbaston.

Benedict XVI will then address the Bishops of England and Wales and Scotland at Oscott seminary – Cardinal Keith O’Brien and Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster will also give speeches alongside the Holy Father.

After a departure ceremony and papal speech at Birmingham International Airport, Benedict XVI will return home to Italy.

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