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Debate: Is it right to charge for papal Masses?

Is it an outrage or a prudent step to avoid weighing the Church down with debt?

By on Thursday, 29 July 2010

Debate: Is it right to charge for papal Masses?

Pilgrims attending the three open-air Masses during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain will have to pay as much as £25 (US$39) for the privilege.

The Church insists that pilgrims are not being charged to attend the Masses themselves but to cover transport and other essential costs.

But the announcement has provoked furious reactions, particularly in Scotland. Even Hindus have criticised the decision, saying that no one should be charged to hear the word of God. Others have gone as far as to suggest that it is a form of simony.

Still others argue that charging is simply a necessary and prudent step if the Church is not to plunge into debt as it did after John Paul II’s visit in 1982.

So, is it right to charge for papal Masses?

  • defiant12314

    I've been told that we have to pay £30 to attend the Mass- What I can't get is why it costs so much; the costs of the coach to the diocesen pilgramage to Glastonbury were less than £15 for every parishinor that went. Don't get me wrong I look foward to going to Cofton Park but surely thier excellencies at the E&WBC could have kept costs lower and therefore not had to charge people (remember also the numerous collections taken up in Parishs across the country).

  • Ignatius

    There is something quite wrong about it, you cannot opt out of the coach and 'pilgrim pack'. It should be possible to make your own way there and not have to pay at all. Is it against Canon law I wonder?

  • Terungwa Anjah

    it is not right to charge for papal masses. This is not the first time the pope is visiting a nation. How is it done in other places? He visited Malta; what was the situation there? I just think that British calculative reasoning has something to do with this than worries over dept as such.

  • Darius35

    Clearly it would be better if everyone could attend the Masses for free. But, seriously, if we are going to criticise this arrangement we have to propose a different way of paying the enormous costs of the 'pastoral' side of the visit. What fairer way is there than to charge those who will actually see His Holiness, rather than the rest of us, who will have to follow it on the web and TV?

  • Darius35

    Clearly it would be better if everyone could attend the Masses for free. But, seriously, if we are going to criticise this arrangement we have to propose a different way of paying the enormous costs of the 'pastoral' side of the visit. What fairer way is there than to charge those who will actually see His Holiness, rather than the rest of us, who will have to follow it on the web and TV?

  • Mannes

    It is normal for there to be tickets — as far as I could tell there were tickets for the Mass in Malta– but most people just seemed to have walked to the Granaries or had made their own way there. But in Malta the security was unusually low-key for a papal visit. The Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, even commented on how much Benedict XVI was enjoying the fact that the levels of security weren't as high as they normally have to be for him. In Britain this is obviously a different matter. Speaking personally, it does feel wrong to charge for people to take part in the papal visit, even if the rationale behind the decision sort of makes sense. I can see that organising coaches etc makes it much easier to supervise the security and so on and clearly these need to be paid for somehow. I guess the charge also means people from farther away are able to come to events that might otherwise be extremely costly for them. But it does seem wrong that parishes or groups of parishes can't supply their own coaches or that private donors cannot simply offer coach services.

    Sometimes it does quite simply feel like Catholics are getting a wee bit shortchanged on this trip, having to pay once through taxes, a second time in the collection and a third time to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father, possibly a fourth time if there is a second collection. But we'll have to pay one way or the other– whether it is upfront or bailing out the debt flooding the Barque of Peter for the next 10 years.

    So perhaps it would be better if we put ourselves firmly behind the Pope, opened our meagre wallets once more, and not let the overeager secularists ruin what will be undoubtedly a historically significant and spiritually encouraging event by also moaning about the cost.

  • MC Man

    IN one word NO

  • Paul Waddington.

    The disturbing thing about this papal visit is that so few people in England and Wales will get a chance even to see the Pope, let alone attend the Beatification Mass. A venue should have been selected that is big enough to accommodate all who would want to attend.

  • karla

    It's not 100% right, but you don't have to pay if you can't. This is a historical event, we can't let that spoil it!

  • AkP

    Definitely NO for tickets; but you would expect to have transport expenses, that is reasonable enough.

  • Diffal

    More important than canon law, its agaist health and safety law and the guidance given to the church by the police

  • Diffal

    I have been told that everyone who wants to go will be asked for the same amount and in this way it is not overly costly for those who live further away

  • Rosary

    Well we can't pay! So won't be going!

  • Guest

    It is completely wrong.
    I've got a parish priest asking 300 dollars for first communions and baptisms to “cover debt”
    Payment for sacraments, or payment for papal visits is an error in judgment.

  • Papal Supporter

    When we go to Mass there is no entrance fee but there is a collection on Sunday for the upkeep of the Church etc. The Papal Masses are no different though the information surrounding the cost of tickets could have been better. Local parishes could have been given the opportunities to register local companies for transportation by a certain date and if the true travel costs were lower then these could be reflected in the total ticket price. The ticket could be a nominal 5GBP with the travel costs being extra. however as there is to be a pilgrims pack the cost is more. however, will this pack be totally accessible for people with visual impairment for example. Disability law comes into play and as usual the Church is reactive not truly proactive to such laws. At the end of the day, we cannot rely on souvenir sales to fund shortfalls. A ticket that controls numbers and is in place of the collection is sensible but the transport costs should have been looked at closely and if they were, then the powers that be should have presented their findings in a n open and more communicative manner. Sad;y there will be moaners, there will be freeloaders, there will be those who will be generous and those who will make real sacrifice. Sadly a lot of low income families will not be aboe to afford even 10GBP and of course some priests will demand immediate payment making it difficult for some parishioners who might need a couple of days etc. However, several thousand VIP guests will pay nothing. That in itself raises a lot of questions.

  • High and Mighty

    It is no big deal. Our parish has been issued a limited number of tickets; forms have been filled in and names will be pulled from the hat. There are more wanting to go than there are tickets but ours seems to be a fair system and all are willing to pay. If we want the Pope to come then we should be prepared to pay the costs of the visit. However, I have heard folk in Wales saying that they won't contribute to the visit because he isn't going to Wales…. seems a bit off because many people will have to travel a great distance to the venues.

  • Mark H.

    I wholly agree with Ignatius. I live in Coventry and I offered to make my own way there, I do not need a 'Pilgrim Pack' and I would meet up with the coach from my parish at the site for security reasons, but I was told that I would still have to 'pay to pray'. There is a good Catholic family in my parish with eight kids, they would have to pay £250, which is about the households weekly income. I think it's contrary to canon law and if it isn't, it should be. How many more disasters is this visit going to throw up?

  • Just me

    It is not only wrong to charge for papal Masses, it is sinful. It's as simple as that. Jesus never charged or asked people to pay…No matter how high are the costs of this visit, it's unchristian to ask for money in order to avoid debt. Peace to all!

  • wise old owl

    It's done by ticket all over the world. It's a muli-billion dollar business. Old king henry wanted his divorce but he also wanted to keep most of the revenue in his back pocket. Watch it on telly, its costing millions of pounds of tax payers money as it is dont be conned into pating with any more

  • Rick59

    Yes a token charge is OK, as the Catholic church in the UK are in the minority about 20% of the whole population. The church financies need assistance. This charge as it is being called in my opinion is totally acceptable. Those going to Westminster are founding there own travel arrangement so will in the long run be paying much more but none of them will complain as it is their wish to attend. None of us Catholics are being forced to attend any event, we want to attend. God Bless us all.

  • GRAINTHORN

    This is simony and completely unacceptable

  • Believe

    I frequently donate directly to the Holy See (Peters Pence) as I grew up and was educated by the Holy Fathers brother Georg Ratzinger. It would be unimaginable if people were charged in Germany to attend mass on his visit (although there everyone pays church tax).
    As every parish has been asked to collect, why should people pay more? Totally unacceptable.

  • Samorrow

    The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a free gift of grace which has been given by our Father God. The whole point of Christ's death and resurrection is that we could not pay the price which God required for our sin.
    The price has been paid, so to then charge to hear the gospel flies in the face of what God has done for us and I fear that Peters response to Simon in Acts 8 has echo's in this situation, “May your money perish with you because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!”
    I am also concerned that there appears to be a cost for prayer. What makes this prayer more special than another prayer. Prayer is again a wonderful free gift of grace which has been provided because of Jesus death and resurrection. We come in prayer through Jesus to the Father and this prayer is available at all times, Paul highlights this in Thessalonian's when he tells us to pray continually.
    Please never let any Christian Church think that it is acceptable to charge for the Gospel. I note that the visit is referred to as an apostolic visit on the Vatican website, no apostle charged for his ministry in the gospels, or in acts as far as it is my understanding .

  • Susanaab

    Is so wrong.Why they charge in here and other countries like Chile or Argentina they dont.I think the Pope have enough money to cover what it needs to be cover.