Vatican 'not worried' by anti-pope protests in Britain trip
The Vatican is "not worried" about planned protests against Pope Benedict XVI during his September 16-19 state visit to Britain, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said on Friday.
"The mediatic echo is greater than the reality of the situation," he said during a briefing to media ahead of the trip.
Lombardi said "reliable polls that show a great interest (among Britons) in Pope Benedict XVI's visit."
"There are always demonstrations, even during other trips. In this particular case, the movement will be bigger because in the United Kingdom there are more atheist or anti-pope groups," Lombardi said.
"This is the normal climate of a pluralist society like Britain's," he added.
An anti-pope march is scheduled for September 18 at 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) in London from Hyde Park to Downing Street.
The trip to Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Birmingham is the first state visit by a pope since England's king Henry VIII broke with the church of Rome in 1534.
John Paul II in 1982 was the first pope to set foot in the country since the rupture, but the Vatican says that was a pastoral visit, thus not a state visit.
© 2010 AFP