By Frances Gumley
Rumours that the Pope plans to visit Britain next year have been squashed by Church sources in Britain and the Vatican. It was suggested that the Pope might address the four day National Pastoral. Congress to be held next May in Liverpool. This idea has met with firm denials: — the Pope has not refused to come, he simply has not been asked. Fr Tom Shepherd, the secretary of the National Pastoral Congress pointed out Archbishop Worlock made it clear last year that everyone looked forward to the Pope visiting Britain but the congress would not be the best time since the visit would divide the attention of the congress delegates. Plans for papal travel elsewhere are still going ahead. It seems increasingly likely the Pope will be allowed to visit Poland this May to join in the celebrations of the 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of St Stanislaus, his predecessor in the see of Cracow.
The Polish Bishops' Con ference are going to send a delegation to Rome this month to give the Pope a formal invitation to the centenary celebrations and to thank him for his dctermina tion to visit Poland again. Polish sources have indicated that Mr Edward Gierek has told Cardinal Wyszynski, the Polish Primate that there is still opposition to the visit among those communist party members who are most hostile to the Church.
They would like to see the visit postponed until August for the feast of the Madonna of Gestohouse or to any feast day other than that of St Stanislaus who is identified with both nationalism and the fight for human rights.
• The Pope has been invited to an international congress of Marian theology in Spain this October.
The Pope told French visitors in Rome this week that he would like to go to Lourdes, and he may visit it to open the 100th anniversary of the Eucharistic Congresses since the 1981 Congresses is scheduled to fake place in Lourdes.
During t he Mass in St Peter's last week he gave the theme for the Congress "Jesus Christ. Bread broken for a new world."
The Pope may also visit Knock, the shrine to Our Lady in Ireland. in August this year and Lourdes in 1981.
Knock celebrates the centenary of the apparition of Our Lady to five local people in 1879, and the Irish Episcopal Conference has invited the Pope to attend the celebratrions.
However, this week the Catholic Press and Information Office in Dublin denied that any firm replay had been received from Rome. Mr Jim Cantwell said that any speculation in other newspapers was "just that — speculation and no more."