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Last Updated: Friday, 17 October, 2003, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Scots Catholics head for Rome
Archbishop O'Brien
Archbishop O'Brien flew to Rome from Edinburgh Airport
More than 500 Catholics are expected to travel from Scotland to Rome next week to see Archbishop Keith O'Brien be made a cardinal.

All of the country's bishops and dozens of priests are also due to witness the ailing pontiff, Pope John Paul II, perform the ceremony.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said: "We are expecting a similar kind of atmosphere to the one which saw the late Thomas Winning made a cardinal.

"The excitement has been building and we fully expect it to be a great day."

Bagpipe players will be on hand to welcome the cardinal-to-be and his entourage and saltires will be draped throughout the holy city.

The special consistory, a gathering of the Pope and cardinals in which Archbishop O'Brien, 65, will be given his red cap, takes place on Tuesday.

Homecoming celebrations

And the following day, the Scots College in Rome will host a special buffet reception for all those who have travelled from Scotland.

The Catholic church spokesman explained that little notice had been given for the Rome ceremony.

There were seven weeks to prepare for Cardinal Thomas Winning's consistory in 1994, this time they were given just two-and-a-half weeks 'notice.

Pope John Paul II
The Pope will perform the ceremony
The spokesman said: "No one was expecting an announcement on new cardinals until the spring of next year, but because of the frailty of the Pope a number of events have now been brought forward."

Further celebrations will take place once the new cardinal, who hails from Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, returns to Scotland.

There will be a mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh on 31 October at 1900 GMT.

A civic reception will also take place on Wednesday, 5 November, in Edinburgh in which the then Cardinal O'Brien will meet councillors, MSPs and other dignitaries.

Pope John Paul II, who is celebrating 25 years in the post, announced the appointment of 31 new cardinals throughout the world at the end of September.

Archbishop O'Brien was ordained a priest in 1965 and became Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh in 1985.

He is the first member of the church in Scotland to be elevated since the death of Cardinal Winning two years ago and will become Scotland's third resident cardinal since the Reformation.

As a cardinal, Archbishop O'Brien will help select the Pope's successor when he dies.

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