Scotland

Papal visit was 'spectacular', says Catholic Church

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAbout 70,000 people attended Mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow

The Pope's visit to Edinburgh and Glasgow was a "spectacular" event, said a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland.

Peter Kearney added that all the negativity before the pontiff's arrival had been "completely wiped away".

First Minister Alex Salmond said it was a "wonderful, historic day".

About 125,000 took to the streets of the capital to see the Pope and about 70,000 people attended Mass in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow.

Fears about traffic congestion proved unfounded, with the exodus of pilgrims passing without major incident.

Mr Kearney said: "Scotland in a sense had a day in the sun - we showed a welcoming face to Pope Benedict, but we also showed a welcoming face to a global audience and it couldn't, from the church's point of view, have gone better.

"All the negativity before the visit was completely wiped away by the enthusiasm, by the excitement and by the joy."

Glasgow Council leader, Councillor Gordon Matheson, said the city had set the standard for the rest of the Pope's UK visit.

He said: "The Papal Mass on Bellahouston Park was an incredible event that showed what Glasgow can do.

"The park looked magnificent, the weather was fantastic, and the ceremony and spectacle of the Mass was awe inspiring.

"It was an historic honour and I am so proud of the work done by the council staff who were involved in the project and helped make the day a huge success."

A 30-year-old man was arrested at Bellahouston in connection with a breach of the peace.

However, police said he was not near the Pope at the time of the alleged incident and did not interfere with the proceedings.

Strathclyde Police's Assistant Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said the "hugely complex operation" had been a resounding success.

"I would like to thank everyone involved in making the event such a memorable occasion for the tens of thousands of people who came to Bellahouston Park," she said.

"The papal visit has shown, yet again, just how well equipped this city is to host global events."

Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, of Lothian and Borders Police, said things had gone very well in Edinburgh, where 600 officers were involved in the operation.

He said: "The St Ninian's day parade and the Papal procession through the capital city was a real spectacle.

"It has been a unique event, in terms of scale and history.

"The Pope visited Scotland 28 years ago in a pastoral role, but this was a full state visit by His Holiness, which Edinburgh was privileged to host for the first time."

About 135 people were treated for minor ailments, but the Scottish Ambulance Service said there was nothing which required hospital treatment.

'Opened its heart'

After his visit to Scotland the Pope headed to London, where the Moderator of the Church of Scotland's General Assembly will read a lesson at an ecumenical service in Westminster Abbey as part of the events on Friday.

Mr Salmond said he was "deeply grateful" to the Pope for the visit.

He added: "The pre-visit negativity in some sections of the media has been swept away by a popular tide of enthusiasm, as Scotland opened its heart to the Holy Father.

"It was a wonderful day, not only for the Catholic community but for the whole nation, which made it a special and historic day for Scotland."

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites