Victorian cardinal represents a 'profound synthesis' of Catholic faith and British spirit, says Fr Lombardi

Cardinal Newman represents a “profound synthesis” of Christian faith and British spirit, the Vatican spokesman has said.

Fr Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said that Newman “embodies in the most convincing way the fascinating fruit of the profound synthesis between the Christian faith and the British spirit and its permanent fecundity for the world of today and tomorrow”.

Writing in his weekly editorial for Vatican Radio, Fr Lombardi said that Newman was “a permanent source of inspiration for the Church and society in many parts of the world”.

He said it would only be with the beatification of John Henry Newman on September 19 that the Pope’s message for the visit will “achieve its full meaning”.

Fr Lombardi also said that interest in the visit in Britain is “growing”, despite “noisy, but still marginal, protests of dissent”, which he said “confirms the perception that indeed the great moral and religious authority of the Pope will be able to offer an important… and constructive contribution to meeting the challenges of today’s world”.

The Pope’s meeting with the leaders of civil society at Westminster Hall today “without doubt” will be “one of the great highlights of the trip”, according to Fr Lombardi.

Fr Lombardi said that the Holy Father was “well aware of the commitment and attention” with which preparations are being made for the papal visit by “not only Her Majesty and the Government, but also the Anglican Primate – the Archbishop of Canterbury – and of course the whole Catholic Church of England, Wales and Scotland”.

Reviewing plans for the visit at a press conference last week, Fr Lombardi indicated that the Vatican was not concerned by plans to against protest the visit, saying that “on other trips as well, there have been protests, debates and objections”, but that “there is nothing to be surprised about” and “we don’t see anything to be worried about, either”.