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    Pope to make historic visit to Britain

    London (PTI): Pope Benedict XVI will undertake what would be the first papal visit to Britain in 30 years and the second by any pontiff since King Henry VIII broke with the Vatican to establish Church of England, according to sources.

    However, details of the papal visit are still under discussion, but some cities being considered include London, Birmingham, Oxford, Edinburgh, Armagh and Dublin, 'The Daily Telegraph' quoted the unnamed sources as saying.

    And, a senior cardinal is due to make a private trip to Britain in the summer to make preparations for the Pope's visit, which could be announced by the end of this year, the newspaper said.

    It may be mentioned here that relations between the Vatican and British government have been strained following clashes over the introduction of laws enforcing homosexual equality and the Embryo Bill, which paved the way for the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos.

    But, it is understood that the historic event is being timed to coincide with the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, who is on the path to becoming the first British saint in 40 years.

    However, it has yet to be decided whether the Pope would travel to Britain solely for a service of beatification for Cardinal Newman or whether it would be turned into a tour of the British Isles.

    A senior source in the Vatican told the newspaper that bishops in England are divided over whether the service would be conducted in Birmingham, where his remains are venerated, or in London at Westminster Cathedral or Wembley stadium.

    The Pope has privately expressed an interest in travelling to Oxford, having previously visited Cambridge, and would also be likely to visit Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    In a message released last week, he strongly condemned the attacks in Northern Ireland that left two British soldiers and a policeman dead as "abominable acts of terrorism".

    "Apart from desecrating human life, (they) seriously endanger the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland and risk destroying the great hopes generated by this process in the region and throughout the world," he said.

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