BISHOPS in Scotland have been told the Pope may be planning a visit around the time of November’s COP26 climate summit.
A papal visit in the time of coronavirus is likely to be different from previous ones in Scotland, where tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of people have come out to see him celebrate Mass.
According to The Times, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland was told to prepare for the possibility of the Pope travelling at the time of the much-anticipated global climate summit.
Bishops said they would “warmly welcome his presence, however briefly, in this country”.
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Pope Francis has previously spoken out on climate issues, speaking on the topic at the UN offices in Nairobi days before the COP21 conference in Paris.
He called on world leaders to come to an agreement and issued a public letter warning of a “disturbing warming of the climatic system”.
In 2019, he declared a climate emergency and said future generations look to “inherit a greatly spoiled world”.
The UK’s ambassador to the Holy See, Sally Axworthy, would not comment on whether the papal visit was discussed. However she told the newspaper: “Everyone who is a member of the UN framework convention on climate change can attend and that incudes the Holy See, which has observer status.
“It is perfectly possible they will attend but is is up to them to decide the level of representation.”
The last papal visit to Scotland took place in 2010, when tens of thousands of people headed to Bellahouston Park to see Pope Benedict XVI celebrate an open-air Mass.
He warned against people who seek “to exclude religious belief from public discourse” during the appearance.
A spokesperson for the Catholic Church said the visit was a “success”.
He commented: “Everybody in the Pope’s entourage was overwhelmed by the people on the streets of Edinburgh and the turn out in Glasgow this evening. It wasn’t just the size of the crowd but their enthusiasm.”
It was reported in 2016 that Pope Francis would visit Scotland, but this trip did not go ahead.
READ MORE: Clip of Pope saying Scotch whisky is ‘the real holy water’ censored by Vatican
Earlier this year Pope Francis hit the headlines when he told Scottish student priests that Scotch whisky is the “real holy water”.
A documentary about Scottish seminarians in Rome had featured a clip of the Pope accepting a bottle of Oban malt. The director told the media “he held it up and said ‘questa e la vera acqua santa’ – which means this is the real holy water”.
He went on: “He guffawed with laughter and it was a real ice-breaker with the students and put everyone at ease.
“But we’d agreed that the Vatican’s media office would be allowed to approve all of our footage before we broadcast it.
“So we sent them the files and when they sent it back that bit of him saying that was cut out.
“We were really annoyed at first, but they insisted they didn’t want the Pope to be seen to be endorsing whisky.”
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