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Vatican spokesman: stringent security means pilgrims must pay to attend papal events

By on Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Vatican spokesman (Photo: PA)

Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Vatican spokesman (Photo: PA)

The Vatican’s spokesman has denied that the Church had imposed the charges on tickets to papal events during Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain in September.

Speaking in an interview with Vatican Radio, Fr Federico Lombardi said it was “absolutely wrong” to “speak about the Vatican demanding paid tickets to attend Mass”.

He said: “It is not the Pope who single-handedly organises a trip to England. So, first thing: the Vatican did not establish any rules in this regard. These are organisational methods dealt with on the spot by the local Church, but taking into account all the many organisational constraints imposed by civil authority.”

Papal events in Britain are unusual, Fr Lombardi said, because “people cannot move freely on foot to where the three major public events will be taking place: they must use arranged transportation and all the seats must be allocated to an extremely precise number”.

He said the unusual constraints were “dictated by the security needs of civil authorities”.

“Thus,” he said, “the Church authorities themselves had to organise groups of faithful who could travel on arranged transportation, thereby giving them a ‘pass’, a special passport for all the faithful who are to take part and this is delivered along with a small ‘kit’ – that is both pastoral and logistical – and so a small contribution has been asked from every group that is organising itself to attend this event.”

Therefore, Fr Lombardi said, the pass was in fact not a ticket “paid by the individual to go to Mass”.

He also stressed that restrictions on the media and on journalists were more demanding than they had been on other trips, but these did not depend on the Vatican or the local Church.

Pilgrims attending Cofton Park have been required to make a contribution of £25 while the cost to attend the vigil at Hyde Park was decreased to £5 after it emerged that many of the pilgrims attending would not require travel cards.

  • Mark Fergusson

    My question is; I intend to go to Crofton Park. If I am not paying to go to mass, how do I attend the mass without having to pay?
    I accept having to pay for transport to an event, but not to attend a mass.

  • David Jones

    The “cost” for Cofton Park is £25 not £20 irrespective of the fact that we live within a few miles of the Park.

  • The Catholic Herald

    Thanks for pointing that out. The article has now been amended.

  • David Armitage

    As a curate in 1965 my salary was £25 a quarter. A season ticket to Leeds United cost about the same. I've been watching these papal rallies since JP II started the fashion. I thought them scandalous then, and nothing has persuaded me that the sight of hundreds of gerontocrats in silly hats and expensive drag is anything but a turn off, of which I want no part. Jesus's triumphal entry was on the back of a donkey. I don't expect Blackpool's beaches to loose their denizens, but a theologian of B XVI's calibreshould at least question the appropriateness of these displays of pomp. Thank heaven I'll have no part in it!

  • Dr.Eduardo Lopez

    It is a shame the the British goverment is so mean and unsupportive with a visit of a person that represents more people in all around the word.

    Dr.Eduardo Lopez

  • Maru

    I totally disagree. Everyone has the right to their opinion. A Papal visit is a once in a lifetime opportunity for people and clergy to celebrate and pray with the Pope himself. What an amazing opportunity. You will miss and regret that by not attending. The spectacles are fantastic. The numbers attending huge. Parishes are giving free tickets to those who cannot afford to attend. Again a once in a lifetime opportunity. Alleluia.