Pope to include Scotland in UK visit

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Pope Benedict XVI announced today he would also be visiting Scotland when he comes to the UK later this year.

The Pope told Scottish bishops who were visiting the Vatican: “Later this year, I shall have the joy of being present with you and the Catholics of Scotland on your native soil.”

He is expected to visit Glasgow and Edinburgh during the September trip.

Scottish bishop Cardinal Keith O’Brien said he was “filled with joy” at the prospect of the Pope’s stop in Scotland, AFP reports.

During this morning’s private audience, the Pope attacked support for a Scottish euthanasia bill, saying it “strikes at the very heart” of Christianity.

He added that faith schools were a “powerful force for social cohesion”.

As Prime Minister Gordon Brown extended the invitation, UK taxpayers are expected to foot the bill for at least the Pope’s security costs.

Catholic church officials and the government are now negotiating who will pick up the rest of the estimated £20 million tab. A Papal visit in 1982 was funded by the church and left it heavily in debt.

The Pope has been outspoken on issues such as gay equality, abortion and birth control and protests are being planned over his visit.

The visit was announced on Monday and a petition set up by the National Secular Society to protest over the cost of the state-funded visit has so far attracted more than 14,000 signatures.