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Pope asks for prayers for trip to Britain

Pope Benedict XVI leads his Angelus prayer from the balcony of his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Cardinal John Henry Newman’s teaching and his personal life can be a source of inspiration for men and women today, Pope Benedict XVI has said.

His comments came just one week before he is scheduled to beatify the 19th-century English theologian.

Speaking with pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer villa at Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict asked for prayers for his trip this week to Scotland and England.

“I ask everyone to accompany with their prayers during this apostolic visit,” the Pope said in Italian.

He told French-speaking visitors that he was happy for the opportunity to visit Great Britain, where he would preside over the beatification on September 19 of Cardinal Newman, who was an Anglican pastor and theologian before joining the Roman Catholic Church.

“His personality and his teaching can be a source of inspiration for our age and for ecumenism,” the Pope said.

Anglican and Vatican officials have said that Cardinal Newman, who already is commemorated on the Anglican calendar, is a model for both communities of a Christian committed to the search for truth and to the respect for the individual conscience.

In his main Angelus address, Pope Benedict spoke about the day’s Gospel reading, which included the story of the Prodigal Son.

“Dear friends, how can we not open our hearts to the certainty that, although we are sinners, we are loved by God? He never tires of coming out to meet us, taking the first steps to cover the path that separates us from him,” the Pope said.