By Rupert de Lisle on Monday, 20 September 2010

As the papal visit drew to a close yesterday evening, organisers, the Prime Minister, and the Vatican all hailed it as a success.

Chris Patten, a co-organiser of the visit, said the visit “demonstrated how much faith matters to so many people in this country, not just to Catholics, but to people of all religions”.

The visit was declared “historic” by Lord Patten and by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in a speech before the Pope’s departure in which he added that the Pope had a message that was “not just to the Catholic Church, but to each and every one of us”.

Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican Press Office who accompanied the Pope on the visit, saw the response of the people of Britain as “very, very positive”.

He said: “Many people were listening with profound interest to what the Pope had to say and demonstrated joy in listening to him and to his message.”

“We have seen that there were critics, but we have seen more times that there were people who were happy and, in this sense, we find that it was very, very positive, the way in which the Pope has been received here.”

The ecumenical service at Westminster Abbey was “significant”, according to Church of England Bishop Paul Butler, who added that the “act of being together… does make it plain that the things that unite us are stronger than those which divide us”.

Widespread enthusiasm of the visit was such that the News of the World called Benedict XVI the “People’s Pope”.