Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Sunday, 1 March 2009

Pope invitation to visit Scotland

Pope Benedict
The last time a Pope visited Scotland was almost 30 years ago

Pope Benedict XVI has been invited to travel to Scotland as part of any forthcoming papal visit to the UK.

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy wrote to Gordon Brown, saying a visit by the Pope would be "appreciated by Scots."

Pope John Paul II made a six-day trip to Scotland in 1982, which included a mass in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park, attended by almost 300,000 people.

The Vatican has said a UK visit by Pope Benedict is "under consideration" but he already has several trips scheduled.

Mr Murphy said he had written to Downing Street to formalise the invitation. He has also contacted the Foreign Office about the possibility of US President Barack Obama visiting Scotland.

"I would like both of them to come to Scotland," he said.

We would absolutely welcome any possibility of a visit by Pope Benedict XVI
Roman Catholic Church spokesman

The possibility of a UK visit was raised by Gordon Brown during a meeting with the Pope at the Vatican last month.

Mr Murphy added: "I spoke to the prime minister about it on Monday on the back of it and said as part of a UK visit - in the discussions about when, how and what - a visit to Scotland, I think, would be appreciated by Scots."

The 81-year-old pontiff is due to visit Cameroon and Angola later this month, with a trip to Israel scheduled for later in the year.

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church said: " We would absolutely welcome any possibility of a visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

"But, of course, we appreciate there are many other countries who have never had a papal visit and would like one."

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