The three day visit of the group, which included meetings with officials of the Holy See’s Secretariat of State and other Catholic organizations, concluded with their attendance at Wednesday’s General Audience.
The role of the group is “to monitor the relationship between the UK and the Holy See,” as well as to explore “a broad range of issues pertaining to the Vatican and the work of the Catholic Church.”
In his interview, Sir Leigh stated that more importance has been placed on the views of the Vatican and the Holy Father, following Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s visit in 2010.
“The point about the Holy See is that it’s not a temporal power, but it is an enormous soft power, to use modern jargon. It’s a religion of 1.2 billion people and therefore the British government and the British parliament is very interested in what the Vatican says,” Sir Leigh told Vatican Radio.
Regarding the Holy See’s influence in modern day events, the British politician highlighted the significance of Pope Francis’ day of prayer for Syria. “As you know,” he said, “the British parliament, quite rightly in my view, led the world in voting against the war, and I think the Vatican and other Church people had a role to play in all that.”
Sir Leigh expressed praise and admiration or Pope Francis in capturing the attention of the world, and resonates very well Great Britain. “I’m not sure there is any other leader in the world who can just have a public meeting every week and 110,000 turn up. Its quite extraordinary really.
The areas of discussions between the All Party Parliamentary Group and the Holy See ranged from international conflicts such as in Syria to ethical issues including euthanasia, stem cell research and gay “marriage”.
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On the NET:
To listen to Vatican Radio’s interview with Sir Edward Leigh, go to: http://www.news.va/en/news/british-parliamentarians-conclude-visit-to-the-vat