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English archbishop unshaken by criticism in advance of papal visit

Catholic World News - September 03, 2010

England’s leading Catholic prelate expects heavy criticism of the Church in advance of the visit by Pope Benedict XVI, but believes that the Pope’s presence will produce a more positive response.

“I think the pattern that has emerged over papal visits to different countries is that in the period immediately prior there is intense criticism of the church in the media,” said Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster in an interview with the Reuters news service. “But what seems to happen is that when the pope arrives, as it were, the sun comes out and the rains are forgotten.”

Pope Benedict is undoubtedly aware of the criticisms that are being aired in the British press, the archbishop said. But he expressed confidence that the Pontiff is undaunted: “Because I think he is a man who intelligently studies the world, and he knows the ebb and flow of opinion, and he knows the rootedness of the Catholic Church and of the Christian faith. And I think he is also a man of quite remarkable peace.”

Questioned about tensions in relations between the Catholic Church and the Church of England, Archbishop Nichols acknowledged that the Pope will face a “delicate” task when he meets with the Archbishop of Canterbury. But he rejected the complaint that the Pope’s initiative toward Anglicans is an effort to entice converts. The English archbishop explained:

Sometimes people want to say ‘oh, this is the initiative of the pope who is going fishing for Anglicans’. That is not true. He is responding to requests that he has received.

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  • Posted by: Obregon - Sep. 03, 2010 10:58 PM ET USA

    It is nice to know the Archbishop of Westminster is not shaken by criticism of the papal visit but very disappointing he did not support his own aide in his criticism of British culture and anti-Catholicism.

  • Posted by: Pro Deo et Hibernia - Sep. 03, 2010 8:09 PM ET USA

    I absolutely agree with Archbishop Nichols- there is nothing quite like the excitement of a papal visit. I had the privilege to see the Holy Father during his visit to my campus, The Catholic University of America, in 2008. It amazed me how excited everyone, including non-Catholics and those who hadn't been to Mass in years, was to see the Vicar of Christ. A sign of the blessing of the Holy Spirit to be sure!

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