Lord Patten and Archbishop Vincent Nichols held a press conference today for UK media ahead of the Papal visit, which takes place from 16 to 19 September.
Lord Patten, the Prime Minister’s Representative for the Papal visit, and Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, highlighted the historic nature of the visit and its significance for many countries around the world. Lord Patten emphasised that the visit will be an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen ties between the UK and the Holy See and to enhance global action on poverty reduction and climate change.
Archbishop Nichols said his two main aims for the visit are to invite society to consider faith in God "a gift to be discovered afresh" and to heighten the level of cooperation between the British Government and the Holy See. He acknowledged differences in opinion between the two parties but underlined that there are many areas in which cooperation can deepen.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, will open policy discussions with senior officials from the Vatican at Lancaster House on Friday evening. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, will conclude the visit on Sunday with a speech at the Pope's departure.