Pope Benedict XVI travels to the UK today for an official visit that will include the beatification ceremonies for Cardinal Newman.
Lead-up to the visit
The lead up period hasn't been pretty. There has been a constant stream of negative stories generated by extreme atheists, the anti-Catholic Anglican establishment, liberal 'catholic' lobby groups, the odd happenings at the Birmingham oratory, the somewhat less than enthusiastic efforts of the UK public service and liberal Catholic ecclesial hierarchy and bureaucracy, all picked up and echoed around the world by a (understandably) horrified and cringing UK blogocracy. And who wouldn't cringe at the prospect of having to pay 25 pounds apiece (priests included) for a "pilgrim pass", assuming one can actually get one of the very scarce tickets, to attend a papal mass?
Both the cringeworthy (albeit perhaps well-intentioned) amateurism (the latest is Cardinal Kaspar being dropped from the entourage after comments about the UK's third world appearance when one lands at Heathrow) and the deliberately nasty things, even including offensive icecream ads (!), are still happening unfortunately.
But there are at least a few signs (at long last) of a backlash against the antics of the extreme atheists starting. Consider for example these stories:
- a thinkpiece by Ed West suggesting that the origins of the new atheism lie in the fear of Islam generated by 9/11;
- a UK 'old-style' atheist attacking the new brand for their lies and distortions on the child abuse scandal; and
- an Australian atheist attacking 'born-again atheism' in The Punch today.
Following the trip
So to follow the visit, aside from the usual suspects you can find in the blogroll to the right, here are a few useful sites you might want to monitor: