Today is the first day of the state visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Great Britain. He arrived at just before 10:30 this morning at Edinburgh airport, and has spent the majority of the day in Scotland before flying down to London in the evening.
It is the first Papal visit to these shores since Pope John Paul II came here in 1982, and has caused a little controversy in some circles. Whilst some people are against the visit on religious principles, others are up in arms over the Catholic Church’s role in recent abuse cases and then there is the matter of who pays for this event. Unlike the Papal visit in 1982, this is an official visit by the Pope in his position as a head of state and as such a large proportion of the cost is to be borne by the British taxpayer. This comes at a time when the country is struggling under a heavy debt and massive cuts are being made to public spending.
I do think, however, that it is a shame that only the second visit by a Pope to this country has been categorized, in the media at least, by the negativity surrounding it. Hopefully the good will outweigh the bad during the 4 days that His Holiness is here and people will come away with good memories of the time, much like people still have of John Paul’s 1982 visit.
I cannot quite believe that it is 28 years since that time. Somebody is definitely accelerating the passage of time somewhere behind the scenes!! Anyway, as a reminder of what the world was like way back in May/June of 1982, here is a video of the song that was at Number One in the charts during the majority of Pope John Paul’s visit way back when.
The subject matter is quite ironic when you think about it!