The Deacon's Bench

As in Benedict the Pope, who is reportedly headed to England next year:

Pope Benedict XVI is to visit Britain in 2010, the BBC has learned.

It will be the first papal visit to Britain since 1982, when Pope John Paul II’s six-day tour drew huge crowds.

The news of Pope Benedict’s visit comes after Gordon Brown extended a formal invitation to the Pope during a private audience in February.

A spokesman for the prime minister said he was “delighted” and “it would be a moving and momentous occasion for the whole country”.

Details of his visit have yet to emerge but the trip is set to be the first official state visit by a pontiff – John Paul II’s visit in May 1982 was on a pastoral basis and did not follow an official invitation by the UK government.

Masses were held in cities including Cardiff, London, Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh and he also met the Queen and Archbishop of Canterbury.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “The PM is obviously delighted at the prospect of a visit from Pope Benedict XVI to Britain.

“It would be a moving and momentous occasion for the whole country and he would undoubtedly receive the warmest of welcomes.”

Conservative leader David Cameron said he was “delighted” to hear of the possible visit.

He said: “Such a visit – the first in over a quarter of a century – would be greatly welcomed not only by Roman Catholics but by the country as a whole.”

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