Kerry woman prepares to address Pope on London visit

Kerry woman prepares to address Pope on London visit

A Kerry woman is preparing to address the Pope in London later today.

Elaine Cahill from Castleisland was chosen to deliver the closing address to the Pontiff when he visits St Mary's University in Twickenham later.

The 21-year-old was asked by the college chaplain to partake in the ceremony at the University, where she graduated during the Summer.

Elaine said she only had three lines to say, but that she was nervous, although she was looking forward to the "once in a lifetime opportunity".

Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to London on the second day of his tour of the UK is set to be a “historic” occasion.

The Pope is to meet Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams in a show of unity between the two Churches.

The men will meet privately at Lambeth Palace before the only ecumenical service of the state visit, at Westminster Abbey. It will be the first time any pope has been to either venue.

The role of faith in society will be the focus of the Pope’s speech at Westminster Hall, shortly before the prayer service.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, leader of Catholics in England and Wales, told a news conference earlier this week that the Pope would pay tribute to the democratic traditions of British society.

He said: “If his previous comments are to go by, he will also want to explore the role of religious faith in modern democratic societies.

“I think while he fully on the record recognises the importance in modern democratic societies of institutions being secular, he expects secular institutions to have an open and positive attitude towards religious faith.”

History could also be made when Rev Dr Jane Hedges, canon steward of Westminster Abbey and a campaigner for women bishops, greets the pontiff as he arrives, as he is not thought to have shaken a clergywoman’s hand in public before.

The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, has spoken of his hope for the meeting between the Archbishop and the Pope.

He told churchgoers in a sermon at Westminster Abbey on Sunday: “The visit of the Pope with the Archbishop of Canterbury to Westminster Abbey, here at the heart of the establishment, will be a remarkable and truly historic event.

“It will be a sign of the end of old enmities, that in truth have been dying over the past 50 years.”

Today will also see the Pope meet about 4,000 school pupils and young people at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, which will be his first public engagement on English soil.

The Catholic Church will be hoping it is as successful as the first day of the visit in Scotland yesterday, and that the Pope manages to leave behind the controversy that marked the run-up to the visit.

He tackled the issue of the child abuse scandal head-on as he flew into Scotland, telling reporters on board his private plane that the priests in question had not been dealt with decisively or quickly enough.

The trip had been threatened to be overshadowed by comments made by Cardinal Walter Kasper, who pulled out of the visit at the last minute, saying that Britain was similar to a “third world country”.

In what is the first ever state visit by a pope, Benedict XVI was officially welcomed by the Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse shortly after his arrival in Edinburgh yesterday morning.

He was greeted by crowds who lined Princes Street. Although there were a small number of protesters angry at the Church’s handling of the abuse of children by Catholic priests, the majority welcomed the pontiff.

There were scenes of celebration later as the Pope travelled to Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, for an open-air Mass. In what was a hectic schedule for the 83-year-old, a flight to London Heathrow followed before the Pope retired to Wimbledon, south west London, for the night.

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