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Lancashire Catholics say Pope's visit is major event
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI's visit starts on Thursday

A Catholic aid worker from Lancashire says the Pope's visit is still a major attraction for people - despite tickets still being available for some events.

Pope Benedict XVI is due to arrive in Edinburgh on 16 September - the first papal visit to Britain for 28 years.

Anne Marie Coppock from the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (Cafod) and will be part of the Pope's congregation in Westminister Hall.

But she admits this visit is very different Pope John Paul II's in 1982.

"It was a pastoral visit and he was coming to visit his people, his flock within this realm," she says, "but this time it's a state visit, so it's very much held by the Queen and by the government."


Anne Marie Coppock
Anne Marie Coppock says it will be a time of "great blessing"

She says for many it's the first chance they will have to see the Pope, "I've been speaking to a lot of young people who are going and they're really excited about it and very much looking forward to it.

"People are leaving so early in the morning, so it's taking a lot of commitment.

"It will be a time of great blessing for the church."

Our Lady's Catholic College in Lancaster is holding a special Mass of Celebration to mark the papal visit, and head teacher Brendan Conboy is going to the public Mass in Cofton Park, Birmingham on Sunday.

He also went to see the last Pope's visit in 1982.

"I was in my early twenties then and we went with all the family over to Heaton Park in Manchester.

'Real buzz'

"I have distant memories of falling asleep in the back of my dad's car because we'd to be there so early. So we took sleeping bags and slept in a little Fiesta overnight.

"There were thousands and thousands of people there that day.

Brendan Conboy
Brendan Conboy also saw the Pope in 1982

"I remember more than anything the real buzz that it created and I'm looking forward to seeing that turnout this week."

Brendan says it's fair to suggest that Pope Benedict isn't as popular as Pope John Paul: "I think he just had such an iconic personality.

"I think he was a man of his time.

"A Polish Pope at the time of the Cold War and at the time of the break up of communism.

"He really had a way of connecting with people.

"A lot of non-Catholics took a massive interest in it and I think that was a lot to do with his personality."

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