(Photo: Cardinal Keith O’Brien displays the papal visit plaid in Edinburgh, Scotland September 9, 2010/David Moir)
Pope Benedict this week makes a challenging trip to Britain — only the second by a pope in history — and his welcome in one of Europe’s most secular nations will range from polite to indifferent and even hostile.
Coming on the heels of a simmering scandal of sexual abuse of children by priests in several European countries, strained relations with the Anglicans, and discontent over the taxpayer footing part of the bill, he will have his work cut out for him.
Benedict’s four-day visit starting on Thursday has been fraught with controversy and the reception will be a shadow of the rapturous one given to the charismatic John Paul in 1982.
“There have always been protests on trips but this time the contestation seems wider,” said the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi. “This is part of the climate in a country like England which is pluralistic and outspoken.”