Halifax schoolchildren’s meeting with Pope is dashed

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
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Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign stunned the world and in particular Parkinson Lane Community Primary School, Halifax.

A party of 90 pupils and staff had secured an audience with his Holiness during a forthcoming Easter visit to Italy.

Gugsy Ahmed

Gugsy Ahmed

That once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has now been dashed with the Pope’s resignation taking effect later this month.

Head teacher Gugsy Ahmed said his wife’s family are Roman Catholics and the audience was arranged through contact with Archbishop Roche.

He served with the Leeds Diocese and late last year took up a new role with direct service to the Pope as Secretary in the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The children had been preparing for the trip through learning about similarities between religions and had intended performing song and dance before Pope Benedict.

The trip will still go-ahead and take in visits to Naples, Pompeii and Rome but Mr Ahmed said he weasn’t hopeful the Papal Office could now make alternative arrangements.

“Meeting the Pope would have been the cherry on a rather large cake,” said Mr Ahmed.