A. ”“ It is a very rich, intense and articulate program. Of course there is great expectation and excitement in the lead up to the first day, which immediately sees the Pope’s meeting with Her Majesty, the Queen. It is also the day when he will meet with Scotland, which is a very important part of this journey. I would like to remind people that the Pope’s visit to Scotland coincides with the Feast of St. Ninian, who is the patron saint and evangeliser of Scotland. As such it is a very important day for Scottish people. We think it will be a great celebration, a very beautiful moment. Then, I would highlight the Pope’s great address in Westminster Hall, his meeting with civil society, the world of culture, with all the most active and influential members of English society. This certainly will be a closely watched moment. The Pope will address, on a very broad level, the problems facing society in the United Kingdom and in the world today. Then there is the ecumenical dimension, in his meeting with the Anglican Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury: the ecumenical celebration is certainly of great significance. We also know that it is a delicate moment for Anglicanism, because of internal debates. It is also a delicate time in relations with the Catholic Church, because these debates also reflect on the relationship between Anglicans and Catholics. Then, obviously, we come to the culminating moment which takes place in two stages, if you will: the vigil in Hyde Park in London and the Beatification in Birmingham dedicated to the figure of Newman. So with this great figure, who is almost “the spiritual heart of this visit”, the journey ends. We know that the Pope accepted the invitation for this visit because of the occasion of Newman’s Beatification.
Q. – Many have pointed to a special bond between Newman, this great nineteenth century pastor and intellectual and Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI. What are your thoughts?
A. ”“ It’s not unfounded[”¦] because in the person of the Pope, Benedict XVI, we have a profound synthesis between faith and reason, and I would add, even spirituality. There is a connection between living the Christian witness in today’s world, in the modern world, giving all the reasons of Christian faith for those who seek it, giving the reason for our hope in the world today, and displaying a deep faith, a very careful, very great, vibrant spirituality as well as a very broad pastoral sensibility. The figure of Newman is complete, he is a fascinating character because of his depth, not only for his intellectual dimension, but also his cultural and pastoral dimension. His ability to convey the completeness of the cultural commitment to the world of today is captivating. He is certainly the perfect figure to present the dignity of Christian witness as capable of addressing the problems and the biggest questions of modern man, to modern society.