Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Sunday, 27 September 2009 16:06 UK

Pope could make Birmingham visit

Pope Benedict XVI
The Pope was invited to come to the UK by the prime minister in February

Pope Benedict XVI is likely to visit Birmingham as part of his planned trip to the UK in 2010, a leading figure in the city's archdiocese has said.

The Pope is expected to visit the city as part of the planned beatification of Cardinal John Newman, Father Marcus Stock said.

The director of education said the beatification was likely to be in the city where Cardinal Newman lived.

He founded the Birmingham Oratory and was known for his work with the poor.

He converted to Catholicism in 1845 and died in 1890.

'Strong possibility'

The BBC understands the Pope will visit in 2010 but this has not been officially confirmed by the Vatican.

The last papal visit to the UK was by John Paul II in 1982.

An invitation was extended to Pope Benedict by Prime Minister Gordon Brown during a private audience in February.

Cardinal John Newman
The Pope is understood to support Cardinal Newman's canonisation

Father Stock said: "If the Pope were indeed to come next autumn, and it would coincide with the time that's being possibly scheduled for the beatification of Cardinal Newman, there is a strong possibility he would come if it was at the same time.

"For the beatification of saints now... they take place locally generally in the country and the diocese in which the saint lived, so for Cardinal Newman that would be Birmingham."

The BBC's Robert Piggott has said the Pope is believed to have a particular interest in Cardinal Newman.

Pope Benedict approved as a miracle the cure of a US Roman Catholic deacon from a crippling spinal disease.

Deacon Jack Sullivan said he became completely free of pain after praying to Cardinal Newman in 2001.



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