Pope XVI will visit Edinburgh, Glasgow, London & Coventry


By Rory Reynolds & Shaun Milne

THE Pope will visit Scotland in September sparking one of the biggest ticket scrambles the country has ever seen.

Pope Benedict XVI will follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Pope John Paul II by holding mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow.

There some 150,000 people will gather in what will be a strictly all-ticket event – expected to be awarded by ballot.

His journey will begin in Edinburgh on September 16 where he will meet the Queen, First Minister Alex Salmond and other dignitaries at the Palace of Holyrood.

Hundreds of thousands will gather in the city streets hoping to catch a glimpse of ‘Papa’ – who will travel by Popemobile- before he is later flown by helicopter to Glasgow.

It is expected the Pontiff will then journey to London where he will stay, greeted by whoever is Prime Minister at the time and other senior Royals, and Coventry during the four day stay.

The Pope’s itinerary includes what is described as being a “major speech” to British civil society at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall.

He will also beatify Cardinal Newman, the 19th convert to Catholicism, bringing the cleric a step closer to becoming the first non-martyred English saint since the Reformation.


Last night Edinburgh’s Lord Provost George Grubb said: “It is a great honour for Edinburgh that Pope Benedict XVI will start his visit to the United Kingdom in the Capital.

“It is an historic moment for the city and we look forward to welcoming him just as we did Paul John Paul II almost 30 years ago.”

A huge security operation – thought to be among the biggest ever seen in the UK – will swing into operation for the duration of his stay.

While responsibility for keeping the Pope safe will be led by specialised teams at the Met, cross force co-operation will be to the fore.

He has sparked global controversy for his criticisms of homosexuality, pro-choice, use of condoms and the Prophet Muhammad and for his support for a holocaust denier and convicted German paedophile.

Over and above his draw as a potential terror target, his views are likely to see protests arranged by pro rights campaigners throughout the duration of his stay.

Strathclyde and Lothian and Borders Police are expected to request help from other forces with leave for officers cancelled during the trip.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said:  “The visit of the Pope will be a significant event for the city of Edinburgh, and a dedicated planning operation is already underway in preparation for his visit.”

Planning has been underway for some considerable time after the invitation to visit from Prime Minister Gordon Brown was first communicated to the Pope in an audience he granted to Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy.

Mr Murphy said yesterday that it was a “unique” event – this being a Papal visit unlike John Paul II’s which was pastoral.

He added: “As we all know, this is a truly unique event.

“It is the first ever official Papal visit to our country combining state to state discussions and related engagements as well as pastoral events being organised by the Catholic bishops conferences of England, Wales and Scotland.”

Head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien said: “I am thrilled that the Pope has accepted the UK Government’s gracious invitation and I am sure he will receive a heartfelt welcome from Catholics as well as members of other faiths and people of goodwill.

“A defining feature of Pope Benedict’s teaching has been to remind Europe of its Christian roots and culture and to give us guidance on the great moral issues of our day and it is my hope that we all open our hearts to his words.”


Known as either Pope, Papa, or even the Bishop of Rome, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is leader of the Catholic church worldwide.

He was elected in papal conclave on April 19, 2005 – and immediately dubbed ‘God’s Rottweiler’ because of his perceived authoritarian views about religion.

The role also saw him appointed as head of Vatican City.

A native of Bavaria, he was born on April 16, 1927 – Holy Saturday – at Marktl am Inn, Diocese of Passau, in Germany.

His father was a policeman, his mother a hotel cook, and he grew up in a small village near the Austrian border called Traunstein where he first received his early Christian teachings.

He later attended University of Munich and studied philosophy and theology from 1946 and was ordained as a priest on June 29, 1951.

His thesis entitled People and House of God in St Augustine’s Doctrine of the Church earned him a doctorate in theology in 1953, before going into teaching at the University of Bonn and other leading institutions.

Pope John Paul VI named him as Archbishop of Munich and Fresing on March 25 1977.

He was later elevated to Cardinal of Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino on June 27 the same year.

In 1981 he settled in Rome itself, taking responsibility for one of the most important roles in the Church – that as Prefect of Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith spending 24 years in the position.

He was also Dean of the College of Cardinals – sometimes known as First Among Equals.

His at times hard line reputation has caused the Church some PR controversy since his appointment as Pope in April 2005.

It was he who agreed to bring Holocaust denier Richard Williamson back into the fold despite his being excommunicated for his views – just months before a visit to the Middle East.

The situation was made worse when it was pointed out he had joined Hitler Youth at the age of 14 – required of all Germans at the time – before being drafted into an anti-aircraft unit in Munch before deserting the German Army and ending up as an Allied POW.

More recently he has been drawn into the controversy surrounding paedophile priests in Germany after it emerged he agreed to the transfers of Peter Hullermann who worked with young boys for 30 years despite being convicted of sex abuse previously.

On abortion he called for pro-choice politicians to be denied Communion, branded homosexuality an “intrinsic moral evil” and in March 2009, sparked outraged when he appeared to suggest the use of condoms could exacerbate rather than prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.

In 2006 he appeared to offend Muslims and forced the Vatican into clarifying his remarks by quoting a 14th Century Byzantine emperor who said the Prophet Muhammad had brought the world only “evil and inhuman” things.

However, well scholared and described as having a soft nature, he has still proven popular for his actions in other areas.

He has repeatedly condemned the continued slaughter in Darfur.

And he has upped the ante on China over human rights issues while still trying to help negotiate improved relations with the country.

Despite the controversy, he is expected to welcome in Scotland just as warmly as his predecessor.

Princes Diana was a newlywed, Madness were No.1 in the charts and the Falklands conflict raged on.

But Pope John Paul II’s 1982 visit to Scotland captivated the nation for three days, with thousands of Catholics and non-Catholics descending on the Pope where ever he went.


Now Scotland braces itself once again as Pope Benedict XVI prepares to visit Edinburgh in September as part of a four day UK tour at the invitation of the Queen.

And there will no doubt be a repeat of Monday 31 May 28 years ago, when 45,000 Roman Catholic teenagers waited for six hours at a packed Murrayfield stadium in bright early summer sunshine.

The Pontiff landed at RAF Turnhouse – now Edinburgh Airport – before being driven to the stadium to address the crowd.

Newspaper reports from the day said that the cheering and chanting could be heard across the city as the Pope approached the stadium.

One reporter wrote: “The cheering had been going on all afternoon, it seemed as though the excitement could not be contained, but again the stewards and clergy calmed the crowd.”

The crowd sang “You Will Not Walk Alone” as the Popemobile approached and entered the stadium , interspersing with song with football-style chants of “John Paul”.

The Pope was introduced to the crowd by Cardinal Gordon Gray, who said that it was fitting “that your first welcome should come from our young people who are our pride and our joy”.

Speaking to the crowd in English the Pope urged the youngsters to have faith at a time when nuclear was still looming and the war in the South Atlantic claimed the lives of more than 250 servicemen and woman.

He said: “Do not let the sight of the world in turmoil shake your confidence in Jesus – not even the threat of nuclear war.

“Remember Jesus’ words: ‘Be brave – I have conquered the world’.”

John Paul II ended his speech in Gaelic, saying: “Young people of Scotland, I thank you.

“Keep the faith joyfully and my blessing be with you.”

Schools across the east of the country took the day off to see the John Paul II, who was the first head of the Catholic church to visit Scotland.

At the time Holy Rood High pupil Evelyn Farrell, 17, said: “It has been like a dream come true.”

For many Catholics in Scotland, that dream is about to be relived all over again.