From January parishes will send groups of 25 people to attend the Masses

Members of parishes in Rome will be able to attend Pope Francis’s private morning Masses in 2014, the Vatican has announced.

Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the cardinal vicar of Rome would tell parish priests how to apply on behalf of their parishioners beginning in January, according to a report by Vatican Radio.

The Pope celebrates Mass every morning in the Vatican guesthouse, where he lives. Excerpts from his short, off-the-cuff homilies there have attracted worldwide attention for their frank, spontaneous style and have occasionally made news with remarks on such controversial topics as the salvation of atheists and the credibility of purported Marian apparitions.

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Most of Pope Francis’s morning congregations so far have consisted of Vatican employees. The guesthouse chapel was constructed to accommodate 120 cardinal-electors and a few attendants during a papal conclave. Fr Lombardi said parishioners would probably be admitted in groups of 25 at a time.

Blessed John Paul II and retired pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass every morning in a private chapel in the Apostolic Palace. Blessed John Paul’s congregation frequently included invited guests.

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