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from FaithWorld:

Seats still going for pope’s visit to Britain this week

pope glasgow (Photo: Workmen prepare altar for pope in Glasgow, September 14, 2010/David Moir)

Thousands of seats have yet to be filled for Pope Benedict's public masses in England and Scotland this week, a far cry from the warm welcome his predecessor received nearly 30 years ago.

The pope arrives in Scotland on Thursday on a state visit at a time when the Church is struggling with a global sex-abuse scandal and hostility from one of Europe's most secular nations.

The current pope has had a hard time inspiring the same enthusiasm as charismatic Pope John Paul II did during the first papal visit to Britain in 1982, when hundreds of thousands turned out to see him.

Early starts, strict security, the need to travel in pre-organized groups and the cost of entry have been cited as the reasons why people might not be attending the public events.

Tiny anti-Pope rally draws huge police response

BRITAIN/

By Maria Golovnina

Peaking through the iron gates of the Vatican’s residence in London, four people rallied quietly on a rainy afternoon holding photographs of children they said were abused by Catholics priests around the world.

With a week to go before Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain, the low-key rally drew little press and the activists were about to leave when six police cars swooped on the scene flashing warning lights.

from FaithWorld:

Expect papal meeting with UK sexual abuse victims — Patten

pattenOne regular but regularly unannounced feature of papal trips in recent years has been the private meeting with local Catholics who were sexually abused as youths by priests. Journalists only find out about them after they've taken place. Just such a meeting seems to be on the cards during Pope Benedict's visit to Britain next week, but of course it does not appear in his official schedule. Chris Patten, the prime minister's special representative for the papal visit,  said as much on Monday in an interview with BBC television (quote at the end of the clip):

"On several previous visits, the pope has met victims of abuse. He has never said he was going to meet them before he did and his meetings have always, for very understandable reasons, been private. I would be surprised if in this visit or any future visit he behaved in any different way."

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