Welcome to our live blog of the first day of the apostolic journey of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain. We’ll be providing links to the most interesting content from around the web and providing. Don’t forget to send us your own pictures, stories and video!
13.30 Milo Yiannopoulos
That’s all from Edinburgh. Join us again at 5.00pm for live blogging of the Mass in Bellahouston Park. Click here for the live blog of the Mass in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow.
12.50 Ed West
Police say 100,000 people have turned out to see the Pope in Edinburgh. Sky News estimates there are 60 protesters.
12.46 Liz Leydon, editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer, says:
The atmosphere was electric from very early in the morning on Princes Street. Security kept Princes Street empty until quite late on – they did not seem that organised.
Lots of people camped out with chairs and flags, dressed for all weathers and it’s a glorious sunny day here. People were peeling off hats and scarves. The atmosphere was electric – I was very reluctant to leave.
12.30 Ed West
The Pope passes by Edinburgh Castle, where Elizabeth II’s Catholic ancestor, Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth to James VI, the Protestant king who would unite the English and Scottish crowns. The Pope sports a specially-made tartan scarf. It was George IV (1820-1830) who, upon a visit to Scotland, would popularise the use of tartans even by Lowland Scots.
12.19 Liz Leydon, editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer, says:
Crowds were gathering in Princes Street in Edinburgh from 8am this morning, when Cardinal Keith O’Brien arrived to see how everything was proceeding ahead of Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival at Edinburgh International Airport.
The cardinal was greeted by school children and a few of the pipers who will be taking part in the St Ninian’s Day parade. He was presented by a gift for the Holy Father from Professor Paul Murray from Durham University. The university have give the Pope a rebound first edition of Saint Bede the Venerable’s Ecclesiastical history from which historians know of St Ninian, whose feast day is today.
Students from Queen Margaret University were giving flags to members of the crowd as they gathered. Early arrivals included Mary Walker and Jean Reith from Dalkeith who had been planning for some time to support the Holy Father as he processes through Edinburgh.
12.10 Ed West
After the Pope is presented to grandees and politicians, Pope and Queen walk together in cloistiers, and the Popemobile leaves Palace of Holyroodhouse.
11.45 Ed West
The Pope mentions Britain’s role in fighting Nazi Germany and talks of the need for honesty and integrity in the British media:
“Because their opinions reach such a wide audience the British media have a graver responsibility than most and a greater opportunity to promote the peace of nations. May all Britons continue to operate by the values of Cardinal Newman of respect, honesty and fair-mindedness.”
He also talks of the need to guard against “aggressive secularism” and “athiest extremism”.
11.43 Mark Greaves
She says it is ‘vital to encourage greater mutual respect and understanding’. ‘I know that reconciliation was a central theme in the life of Cardinal John Henry Newman – a man who struggled with doubt and uncertainty, his contribution to the understanding of Christianity continues to influence.
She says she hoped the visit would ‘deepen the relationship between the Catholic Church, the Established Church of England and Scotland.’
Religion, she said, should ‘never become a vehicle of hatred’. ‘Today in this country we stand united in that conviction. We hold that freedom to worship is at the core of our tolerant and democratic society. On the behalf of the British people, I wish you a most fruitful and memorable visit.’
11.38 Mark Greaves
Queen says she has ‘fond memories’ of her visits to the Vatican. She praises its ‘warm hospitality’. Much has changed since John Paul II’s visit. She says Britain ‘deeply appreciates’ the Holy See’s role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. The Holy See still has an important role in international development, and in addressing problems such as poverty and climate change. The visit reminds us, she says, of ‘our common Christian heritage’.
11.35 Mark Greaves
Sorry: technical problems have kept us offline. We’re now back, and should be here for the rest of the day. The Queen has formally greeted the Pope. And she is now giving her welcome speech!
10.51 Milo Yiannopoulos
John Hooper, one of the journalists lucky enough to accompany the Pope on the plane, is quoted the Guardian:
Benedict told correspondents on board the plane that paedophilia was an “illness” whose sufferers had lost their free will. Using his strongest language to date on his church’s record on clerical sex abuse, he deplored its failure to act swiftly and decisively in the past.
Answering previously submitted questions during a 15-minute briefing, he said: “It is difficult to understand how this perversion of the priestly mission was possible”.
Pope Benedict said he had learnt of the cases which had come to light recently with sadness, adding “sadness also that the church authorities were not sufficiently vigilant and insufficiently speedy and decisive in taking the necessary measures.”
The pope praised the bishops of Britain for the way in which they had tackled the problem of clerical sex abuse.
He brushed aside the controversies that have preceded his arrival, saying that he had also faced anti-clericalism and anti-Catholicism on his visits to France and the Czech Republic where he had also had a “warm welcome” from the Catholic community.
“Naturally, Great Britain has its own tradition of anti-Catholicism. That’s obvious. But it’s also a country with a great history of tolerance,” he said.
10.50 Mark Greaves
Royal Company of Archers are lining up in front of Holyrood House. The cavalcade is making its way there rather speedily. Soon the Pope and the Queen will be standing together. The Queen, although she has met John XXIII and John Paul II in Rome, has never actually met Pope Benedict XVI.
10.43 Mark Greaves
The Pope emerges from the welcoming marquee with the Duke of Edinburgh. He gets into a grey Jaguar with tinted windows – not the popemobile at this stage, sadly.
10.40 Mark Greaves
The Vatican entourage are chatting, Francis Campbell is greeting Cardinal Bertone very warmly. An ‘understated arrival’, according to the BBC’s Huw Edwards. Peter Stanford says he is an ‘understated man’, and that kissing the tarmac isn’t his style. ‘There’s a difference between charm and charisma. He has enormous personal charm, but less actorly charisma..’
10.36 Mark Greaves
The Pope shakes hands with the Duke of Edinburgh, Lord Patten, Cardinal Keith O’Brien (who is chatty and animated), Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, and Francis Campbell, the ambassador to the Holy See…
10.34 Mark Greaves
The Pope is just about to get off the plane. He will be formally greeted by the papal nuncio and the Duke of Edinburgh. In half an hour he will be formally welcomed by the Queen at Holyrood House. The papal nuncio, who recently suffered a stroke, is walking up the stairs to greet the Pope now…
10.18 Milo Yiannopoulos
“The Pope’s enemies have, we can only hope, done their worst,” says William Oddie on his Catholic Herald blog. “As the visit begins, we must watch and pray.”
The scandal is not that paedophilia is more rampant in the Catholic Church than anywhere else: it is that we are all too representative of modern society when we should be an example to it.
10.18 Mark Greaves
He spoke strongly on the plane about the clerical sex abuse crisis, according to the Catholic News Service
10.14 Mark Greaves
Ian Dunn, deputy editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer, is at Bellahouston Park. He says:
It’s clear, sunny, a bit brisk: it doesn’t get much better than this for September in Glasgow. Musicians are rehearsing, choirs are singing..
He’ll keep us posted throughout the day…
10.10 Luke Coppen
“Archbishop Cranmer” tweets:
His_Grace The Duke of Edinburgh driven to the airport to greet the Pope? Extraordinary. When has such a high-ranking Royal performed such a role?
09.58 Milo Yiannopoulos
The Daily Mail has published a robust response to a letter to the Guardian from Stephen Fry and other public figures protesting the Pope’s visit.
Their protest, dripping with self-importance, isn’t merely pompous. It’s plain discourteous to a guest of this country, whose office is revered by hundreds of millions around the world.
Meanwhile, if Mr Fry and his ilk took a moment off from listening to their own smug, right-on voices, they might even acquire a degree of insight into the many problems confronting our sick society. [...] These are problems that could still be eased by the Pope’s ancient message of peace, self-sacrifice and the love of a good God, from which – despite the horror of the dark side of the Catholic church – countless millions still draw great strength.
09.54 Ed West
The Guardian has the latest info about traffic disruption in Edinburgh.
09.52 Mark Greaves
Just spoke to James MacMillan, the composer of the new Mass setting to be used at Bellahouston Park this afternoon and at Cofton Park on Sunday. He’s at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh now, and he’s just done an interview with the BBC:
Security is very tight, there are lots of media around, I’ve never seen it like this before. My big issue is whether I will get back to the Bellahouston Mass in time. I’m very excited about [the Bellahouston Mass] – it should be an amazing experience.
I’m a little bit nervous, to be honest. I generally like to be more involved. But on the other hand it’s nice to sit back and be a normal participant in the Mass.
09.48 Luke Coppen
Anna Arco, our intrepid reporter, sends us this photo of the Holy See’s
flags on the Mall in central London.
09.47 Milo Yiannopoulos
Fr John McCloskey explains to the Catholic Herald how Newman’s beatification will give a new momentum to ecumenism.
09.45 Milo Yiannopoulos
Fr Tim Finigan suggests the Guardian may be having some technical issues with its live blog this morning.
FatherTF Guardian’s “Live blog” does not update automatically and has no links when it refers to stories “here”
09.42 Mark Greaves
Archbishop Vincent Nichols is asked by the BBC if he, like Cardinal Kasper, thinks Britain is a “Third World country” when he lands at Heathrow:
Well, I’m always very glad to land at Heathrow and get back home. On face value I find the remarks of Cardinal Kasper quite inexplicable. This is a very diverse country and we rejoice in that diversity. There’s a great richness of people and cultures and contributions made to British society…
09.41 Luke Coppen
The Press Association reports that Deacon Jack Sullivan is on his way to Britain for Sunday’s beatification Mass.
09.38 Mark Greaves
The Daily Mail has defended the Holy Father against Stephen Fry and co. Its leader says the Pope’s conscription into the Hitler Youth at 14 has given his critics a “cheap brickbat” to hurl at him.
Benedict XVI is a deeply thoughtful theologian, whose chief anxiety is the spiritual vacuum at the heart of a modern society bent on instant gratification – something which should concern people of all creeds and none.
09.32 Milo Yiannopoulos
Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, has told the BBC that “sceptics … may well be confounded today”:
There is a certain amount of excitement in the air. It is not just excitement for the Catholic community in Scotland it is also for the whole nation.
09.28 Luke Coppen
The BBC’s religious affairs correspondent comments:
Pope Benedict will be on something of a charm offensive during his visit to Britain, but his aims go far beyond symbolic stage-managed appearances.
09.28 Milo Yiannopoulos
Here’s a copy of the full itinerary for the Holy Father’s visit to Britain.
09.23 Milo Yiannopoulos
The official Papal Visit Twitter feed is providing interesting snippets of information about the Pope this morning:
thepapalvisit Did you know that Pope Benedict has a private pilot license to fly the Vatican helicopter? What a cool Pope!
09.20 Mark Greaves
The Church in England and Wales has distanced itself from Cardinal Kasper’s comments. Here is the CCN statement:
“The attributed comments of Cardinal Kasper do not represent the views of the Vatican, nor those of bishops in this country. Clearly, they are the personal views of one individual. Catholics play a full part in this country’s life and welcome the rich diversity of thought, culture and people which is so evident here. This historic visit marks a further development of the good relationship between the United Kingdom and the Holy See. We are confident that it will be a huge success.”
09.15 Milo Yiannopoulos
The Telegraph’s Harry Mount says: “It’s only good manners to welcome the Pope, even if you’re not a Catholic.”
09.14 Mark Greaves
News from the Daily Star: Coleen Rooney is going to see the Holy Father.
One pal said: “She’s been through a truly terrible time and has had to draw on every ounce of her faith to get by. Seeing the Pope would be just the boost she needs right now.’’
Coleen’s dad Tony, 50, and mum Colette, 46, are both devout followers of the faith.
She was deputy head girl at St John Bosco Roman Catholic School in Liverpool and in 2008 took Rosie – who suffers from brain disorder Rett Syndrome – to Lourdes in France in the hope of a miraculous improvement.
09.12 Luke Coppen
The Scotsman is reporting that today’s papal visit to Edinburgh will leave the city “a bumper tourism legacy” that could last for years.
09.09 Luke Coppen
And let’s not forget the Sky News papal visit web page, which has nice footage of the Pope’s leaving Ciampino airport.
09.06 Luke Coppen
Cybil Oliver, a Londoner and member of the Church of England, rings in to say she’s pleased that the pupils at St Ninian’s Anglican school will be greeting the Pope today:
I think the visit will be a good thing for this country. We listen far too much to atheists like Richard Dawkins. I think it’s time that people paid attention to the teachings of Christ.
08.58 Luke Coppen
There are some other nifty live blogs we are keeping an eye on today: the Guardian’s and the BBC’s.
08.52 Luke Coppen
Hold the front page: John Gibson of the Scotsman has a remarkable exclusive:
I can exclusively reveal that the Pope will tuck in to sausage rolls (the house speciality) when he drops in Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s residence.
08.48 Luke Coppen
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has distanced himself personally from Cardinal Kasper’s comments. He tells the BBC they were “inexplicable“.
08.46 Luke Coppen
There’s another sweet human interest story in the Daily Record about a nine-year-old boy who will receive a papal blessing today after he wrote to Benedict XVI to ask him to “help keep his cancer away”.
Anton said last night: “I can’t wait to meet the Pope. It will be the best day of my life. I didn’t think when I wrote my letter to him that he would get a chance to write back to me in time.”
08.44 Luke Coppen
The soft news story of the day is Susan Boyle’s pride at singing for the Pope. She tells the Daily Record that she fainted when she was invited to sing for the Holy Father.
Susan keeled over – and had to be helped into a golf buggy that had been used to ferry her around.
08.41 Luke Coppen
The Telegraph’s Toby Young, on the other hand, thinks the cardinal was
What’s all the fuss about? Cardinal Kasper, a senior aide to the Pope, is absolutely right. Arriving at Heathrow is like landing in a Third World country. Indeed, I’d go further and say it’s actually more of a shock than arriving in most Third World countries. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya, for instance, is actually quite a civilised place by comparison. Heathrow Airport is a smelly, chaotic, dirty hellhole – exactly like large parts of the United Kingdom, in fact.
08.40 Luke Coppen
The Guardian’s Andrew Brown suggests Cardinal Kasper’s remarks reveal what the Vatican really thinks of Britain.
08.38 Luke Coppen
Let’s begin a review of this morning’s top papal visit stories. The papers are dominated by Cardinal Walter Kasper’s comments about Britain. He said that arriving at Heathrow airport “you think at times you have landed in a Third World country”. The Guardian’s front page interprets his words as “race remarks“.
08.31 Luke Coppen
A good place to get a quick overview of the papal visit itinerary is the Vatican website’s Apostolic Journey to the United Kingdom page.
08.25 Luke Coppen
Not surprisingly, there is lots of papal visit-related activity on Twitter this morning. Amid all the complaints about traffic disruption I particularly enjoyed this:
ukcatholics Morning all! Jumped out of bed this morning and woke everyone up by screaming VIVA IL PAPA!!
08.17 Milo Yiannopoulos
The Holy Father is en route to Britain.