Debate: Is Catholic indifference the greatest threat to the Pope’s visit?

Will the crowds stay away for the papal visit? (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Francis Campbell, the British Ambassador to the Holy See, spoke to the US Catholic News Service this week about the Pope’s trip. Talking about hostility in the media, he mentioned that he preferred antagonism to indifference, “because it means you’re relevant”.

The media, certainly, are not indifferent to the Pope’s trip. But are Catholics? Rumours suggest that the Mass at Cofton Park and the vigil in Hyde Park are actually undersubscribed, and that the Church is struggling to fill the space.

Some say a lack of interest was spread by the papal visit organisers when they announced that not everyone could see the Pope and that most people would have to watch him on television. Others argue that Pope Benedict XVI is not as popular among English Catholics as John Paul II was.

Still others add that Cardinal Newman does not have a broad appeal among Catholics; he is known as a brilliant writer, but few people have read his books.

On the other hand, when Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Britain, his goodness and gentleness will be evident for all to see. Many Catholics love Pope Benedict, and their voice certainly has not been heard in the run-up to his visit.

So, is Catholic indifference the greatest threat to the Pope’s visit?