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Catholics urged to apply as soon as possible for papal visit places

By on Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Angelus prayer at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo on Sunday (Photo: PA)

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Angelus prayer at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo on Sunday (Photo: PA)

Catholics are being urged to apply as soon as possible in their parishes if they are to stand any chance of attending the big outdoor papal events in September.

Details of the ticket allocations for the Mass in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, the prayer vigil in Hyde Park, London, and the beatification of Cardinal Newman in Cofton Park, Birmingham, were sent to parish priests last week.

Although they may have already contributed to the visit’s costs through the national collection, the faithful will be charged £25 to attend the Mass in Cofton Park and £10 for the Hyde Park vigil. The 1,000 priests concelebrating in Birmingham will also have to pay, though the 2,000 VIPs attending the events will not.

A spokesman for the Church said: “The idea is that the people who are going are not visitors but pilgrims and they are representing the faithful. So they will have a pilgrim pass, and this will include a journey CD, all the health and safety stuff, a travelcard, the Magnificat [prayer book] and the commemorative branded pack. The whole idea is that they contribute to the cost of travel.”

The blanket price will also help to pay for people who have to travel far to the event, so that someone from London will pay no more for the Hyde Park event than someone from Cornwall. But there will be a regional bias so that northern dioceses receive more Bellahouston places, with those in the Midlands getting the bulk of the beatification tickets and southern dioceses receiving most for Hyde Park.

The spokesman confirmed that priests will be paying to attend the beatification Mass. “If a priest is going to go along to the beatification and will be concelebrating, he will be leading the pilgrimage, leading his parish as a group,” he said.

Distribution will vary by diocese, with the Diocese of Westminster calling for each parish to nominate one person as a local coordinator “to whom and from whom all necessary information will flow”. For security reasons each group will need to nominate a “pilgrim leader” who will lead each parish into Birmingham and Hyde Park as a group. Concelebrating priests cannot be pilgrim leaders for Birmingham because of separate access arrangements. The Diocese of Westminster set a deadline of July 14 for details of parish leaders to be sent in.

The number of places allocated to each deanery will correspond to the number of Mass-goers listed in the latest diocesan yearbook, and each dean will be responsible for distributing tickets fairly between parishes.

Parishioners are also welcome to bring guests, including members of other faiths, “subject to appropriate proof of identity”. The same pattern is expected across other dioceses.

Fr Tim Finigan, whose Blackfen parish in Southwark diocese is receiving 20 tickets for the beatification and 57 for Hyde Park, said he had expected that “priests who wish to attend would have to arrange payment of their own travel costs” and that “these would be a legitimate parish expense since they relate to an activity which is wholly and exclusively part of the priestly ministry”.

Meanwhile, West Midlands Police has insisted that it will be able to cover the costs of the Pope’s presence in Birmingham, using money from its budget as well as Government funds. Chief Superintendent James Andronov said that while there was still work to be done “that certainly isn’t deterring us from planning what we hope will be – well, fully anticipate will be – a very successful and safe event”.

The rising costs of the visit are a source of continuing anxiety, with the total bill for policing, accommodation and travel for taxpayers now estimated to be around £20million. The debt-ridden Government is expected to pay for policing, which includes guaranteeing the Pope’s safety during the 14 engagements, while non-policing costs, such as accommodation and travel for the papal delegation, will be split between Church and state.

National newspapers have quoted anonymous Government officials saying that costs have spiralled out of control, while the Church has been forced to rethink key elements of the visit due to costs, although it has now raised £6million of the projected £7million cost.

Meanwhile, Bishop Vincent Logan of Dunkeld in Scotland has predicted that the legacy of the Pope’s visit will “more than justify the costs”.

He said: “It is now 28 years since Pope John Paul II visited Scotland but we all still have vivid memories of those days he spent with us and we all still talk about the great occasion that it was.”

Last month senior Conservative peer Lord Patten was put in charge of co-ordinating the Government’s involvement as a sign that David Cameron took the visit seriously. Lord Patten told the Spectator that “like a lot of other Catholics… I don’t agree with everything that the Vatican says”, but said he admired the Pope intellectually.

The Pontiff is due to meet the Queen and Prince Philip at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, although he will not meet Prince Charles, leading one Sunday newspaper to suggest that Benedict XVI had turned down a request to meet the Prince at a separate venue on the same day. A spokesman for the Prince denied that the Pope had snubbed him.

Not everyone is welcoming the papal visit, however. The Rev Professor Donald Macleod, recently retired principal of the Free Church College in Edinburgh, accused his fellow countrymen of being “suckers for funny costumes” who “love to see old men dressed in ancient Roman togas”.

He also accused the Scottish government of “airbrushing” the Protestant Reformation out of history while celebrating the visit by the Pope, and dishonouring John Knox “the greatest of all our nation-builders”.

Prof Macleod said: “Why does secular, humanist Scotland so warmly entertain Catholicism, with all its authoritarianism, and yet register terror at the mere mention of the religion of Knox? Is it just that we’re suckers for funny costumes, and love to see old men dressed in ancient Roman togas?”

  • Volpius Loenius

    All the old heresies are coming back so why not bring back simony as well?

  • vquack

    Arrest Ratzinger when he sets foot in the UK?

  • 1mrpants2

    We are astonishingly loyal to our Bishops, but that loyalty is beginning to crack. My parish has been allocated 31 places for the prayer vigil and 2 for the canonisation. The only certainty is that the great and the good will be found places along with those who run the ecumenical circus. Maybe this tells us a lot about how the ordinary pew Catholics are really regarded.

  • Daviddelphinus

    not only europe even africa.

  • Danielck

    “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world”. Forgive us our sins Lord.

  • Danielck

    “Guide us, O Lord, in the way of your truth, that today we may choose wisely among the many ideas the media present to us. Your word is a lamp for our steps.”

  • Danielck

    “Guide us, O Lord, in the way of your Word, that today we may follow where you lead us. Your word is a lamp for our steps.”

  • jones.

    Popularism is now believed to be the philosophy of power, but it seems Prof, Macleod needs to be lectured in this. Benedict is a celebrit both in the relm of catholic thinking and in secular world. So its not you are suckers for funny costumes, but you realy have to enjoy seeing old men dressed in real ancient catholic togas. Have a nice Benedict visit.

  • Miles Mariae

    Mgr. Summersgill compares the compulsory contributions to that of World Youth day. The comparison is not fair as it was not compulsory to “register as a pilgrim” to attend papal masses, such as the one at Randwick Racecourse. It was possible to get a ticket as an unregistered individual and to not have to pay a penny. Those who registered got a free travelcard and a pilgrim pack. Attending the mass as an individual was free.

  • Ratbag

    You know what, 1mrpants2! I can tell you of two contrasting accounts of the ticket allocation problems/farce/debacle/here from the point of view of my LPA/Diocese – one, that few parishoners responded to the initial request for names to be taken for the Cofton Park vip seats. My fiance and I – who attends the same parish – decided to put our names into the tombola anyway even though we were thinking that the great and the good of our church (whom I jokingly call the 'usual suspects' as we have two Bene Merenti medal holders and their spouses!) would be given first refusal. Alternatively, if there was one seat left on the pilgrim bus, we would not go without each other and be content just to stay in and watch The Pope on the telly! Imagine our delight when we were told that we would not only be going to Cofton Park together but as vips, too! We're still not over the shock. The other angle of the ticket allocation story was soley down to a communication problem – another priest a few miles away got notice of the vip tickets hours before the 1pm Monday deadline!!!!! Even in an affluent parish like his, he would not have been able to gather any possible names for the tombola – even if he had contact names and numbers of his parishoners (a far fetched analogy, I know) ! He was,er, well miffed. The transport situation to Cofton Park resembles Lannigan's Ball – on the bus, make your own way, on the bus, and make your own way again – get the picture? The pilgrim organiser in our LPA is currently close to overdosing on Anadin and calling the Samaritans because of co-ordinating the red tape, criminal checks – you name it! She never witnessed anything like it and no amount of abstinence from caffeine will lower her stress level. No day out to Southport this, missus, as she found out to her chagrin. Also, my beloved and I will have to take two forms of ID to the vip checkpoint charlie on the day – ecky pump! We are going to Mass which will be celebrated by The Pope – not appling for a bank account! Joking aside, this security malarkey is extremely necessary and we totally accept that. Also, we'll be donating to the Papal Visit online, too!

    As for people like Prof. McLeod, you should have gone to a very well known high street opticians chain! Do you not know the difference between a chasuble and a toga? Are you mixing up Shakespeare with Holy Mass? You can always Wiki chasubles and togas – see them for yourself! As a Brit/Scot, will you be as bold in describing your Head of State, HM Queen Elizabeth II, as 'an old woman dressed as a sparkly pantomime fairy' when she attends and presides at The State Opening of Parliament or when she meets a Head of State at another State function, adorned with every conceivable precious stone about her person, as well as the precious metal and enamel that make up the Orders and Honours she wears? Hmm??? In her capacity as Head of The Church of England??? What time does the Tower of London shut? Gulp!

    As for HH The Pope, I, for one, will be looking forward to seeing him in his ecclesiastical attire when he visits the UK to celebrate Mass. Recently, my parish exhibited several examples of ecclesiastical attire for Masses from the past through to the present. They were remarkable works of art which add warmth, dignity and majesty to the celebration of Mass. Pope John Paul II wore some stunning stoles and chasubles at his Masses around the world! Colours reflect the liturgical seasons in the Church's year and have a specific prayerful meaning. They are not worn just for the sake of it.

  • Alexanders

    Are there any last minute stand-by tickets? I didn't apply in our parish because it is off to University time in this household and at the time when tickets wewre issued, I was afraid I would be ferrying files and duvet covers. I saw the late Holy Father at York many years ago and I just turned up on the day: is there anywhere that returned tickets are available?

  • Mel

    Um, it's probably too late, but I got a place by getting in touch with our Papal Co-ordinator through the Diocesan website last month. There were no tickets left in my parish, but he found a spare ticket in another parish and put me in touch with them. I'm going to Cofton Park with them on Sunday!

    Thank you, Clifton!