Debate: Will the papal visit change Britain?

Pope Benedict XVI will be welcomed by the Queen at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh on Thursday, September 16

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said in a recent BBC interview that the Pope’s visit will “really change the way we understand ourselves”. The moment the Queen welcomes the Pope, he said, will be “full of resonance” for the history of Britain: it will be the first time that a pope has ever been welcomed here by a British monarch.

Lord Patten, too, pointed to the historic significance of Pope Benedict’s trip. He said it will ensure that Catholics never again feel like “second-class” citizens.

Yet most Catholics are unlikely to actually see the Pope, other than on television. And, so far, all the visit seems to have done is incite hostility towards the Holy Father and the Catholic Church.

So, will the papal visit change Britain? Or will it make no lasting difference?