UK

Lord Patten to oversee Pope Benedict XVI's UK visit

  • 8 June 2010
  • From the section UK
Pope Benedict XVI
The last papal visit to the UK was in May 1982

Former Governor of Hong Kong and EU Commissioner Lord Patten has been appointed to oversee the Pope's visit to the UK in September.

Prime Minister David Cameron appointed the Conservative peer, a Catholic, his "personal representative" for the trip.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office has confirmed it has given a final written warning to a worker responsible for a memo mocking the Roman Catholic church.

The memo said the Pope should bless a gay marriage or see an abortion clinic.

Pope Benedict XVI's visit, between 16 and 19 September, is the first papal visit to the UK since that of John Paul II in 1982.

His itinerary includes 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."

The Church has been forced to ask its congregation to help finance its £7m share of the costs of the visit which, even without extra policing and security, will amount to £15m.

The Archdiocese of Birmingham has denied reports it had to scale back plans for an open-air mass taking place after one of the highlights of the trip - the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Coventry - on 19 September.

Separately, the Vatican had stressed the memo leaked earlier this year would have no impact on the Papal visit.

However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) confirmed it had imposed the written warning for a period of five years, during which the individual involved would be barred from taking overseas postings.

"This warning means that any repeat of behaviour bringing the FCO into disrepute would result in dismissal," a spokesman said.

"In addition, the FCO will look at the development needed by the individual to ensure such a serious error of judgement is never repeated."

Other staff involved had been reminded of their responsibilities, he added.

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