Prime Minister David Cameron appointed the Catholic, Conservative peer, Lord Christopher Patten of Barnes, as his ‘personal representative’ for the visit of Pope Benedict to England and Scotland between 16 and 19 September.
The Holy Father’s itinerary will include a reception with the Queen at Holyrood House in Edinburgh and open air Masses in Glasgow, Birmingham and London. He will also attend a celebration of Catholic education and a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury in the capital.
In a Commons statement, the prime minister said: “Lord Patten will, on my behalf, oversee and manage government preparations for the visit alongside the arrangements being made by the Catholic Bishops Conferences.
“Lord Patten will oversee the co-ordination of all elements for which the government is responsible.” A former MP and cabinet minister, Lord Patten was the last British governor of Hong Kong and has also served as ` European Commissioner.
Responding to the news, a spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said:
“We warmly welcome the appointment by the Prime Minister of the Right Honourable Lord Patten of Barnes as his “Personal Representative”, who will now oversee and manage the Government’s preparations for the State Visit of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.
This will enable the plans for the Visit, which are well advanced, to move into a decisive phase.
We look forward with joy to the Visit of the Holy Father and pray that it will bring many blessings to our countries.”