43 days to go until Pope Benedict XVI visits England and Scotland

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Welcome to this week’s audio update from the desk of the Papal Visit Co-ordinator, Mgr Andrew Summersgill. In this interview we talk about the pilgrim packs and passports and focus on the three open-air public celebrations.

You can listen to the audio by clicking on the MP3 player on the right hand side of this article.

Monsignor Andrew Summersgill:

During the last week we’ve been finalising the information that pilgrims will need to attend the Mass in Bellahouston, the Vigil in Hyde Park and the Mass in Cofton Park. We have prepared what we’re calling the ‘pilgrim passport’ containing all the information pilgrims will need to participate in the journey and the celebrations.

The passport has now been finalised and has gone to the printers for preparation and inclusion in the pilgrim packs. The packs will then be distributed to those who have said they’re coming to one of the papal gatherings – probably around the beginning of September.

Hyde Park suggested contribution reduced to £5

We’ve been listening to a lot of feedback from people who are intending to come to Hyde Park. Many of those people come from the London area (and I imagine they are people who are working in London). Consequently, they already have Oyster cards or travel passes, and our contribution of £10 included a travel pass for that day.

Many, many people have said to us that it’s something of a duplication and it would be better not to include a travel card. We would have difficulties if we had some pilgrim packs with a travel card and some without. So we thought it would be better to take out the travel cards and reduce the contribution to £5.

Transport for London assure us that they can quite easily cater for the numbers of people who will need travel cards – it’s the kind of number they comfortably deal with on a regular basis. Also, for families, it does mean that the outlay will potentially be a little bit lower, because the family travel cards would be cheaper, rather than say have a pilgrim travel contribution from four people.

Suggested pilgrim contribution

It is a contribution, not, as I’ve been reading in some places, a charge for people to go to Mass. Its main purpose is to cover the cost of transportation, particularly to Cofton and to Bellahouston, and for some of the costs around the traffic management that needs take place when dealing with large numbers of people not to mention some of the secured accreditation that is needed for people to get in.

I was thinking about how it’s done in other events associated with the Pope, and I was thinking especially of the World Youth Days. What happens at the World Youth Days is that everybody is invited to register online and part of that registration includes a contribution which is usually made by credit card or through groups. So it’s not totally dissimilar to the way these things work in other parts of the world.

The contribution is being kept the same across the board and therefore it’s an act, if you like, of solidarity, so that anybody who is attending either the Beatification Mass or the Mass in Glasgow is making the same contribution no matter where they are coming from.

In England and Wales, the contributions are collected through the dioceses and it is up to each one to decide how they wish to collect the contributions from within their own dioceses. The diocese itself may make the contribution; it may be passed to parishes, there may be fundraising groups within parishes and parishes may wish to support other people attending Papal events. It isn’t a direct contribution in that sense.

In Scotland, contributions are collected through the parishes and how a parish makes that contribution is entirely up to the parish.

Media accreditation

Media accreditation is being handled by the government, and particularly through the Foreign Office which is handling all the logistics for the media. The media accreditation will open this week and as far as I’m aware it will be open for around three weeks – I think that’s the usual period for this kind of thing. Journalists are invited to go to the Foreign Office website and register their interest in being accredited. I understand that the provision for the media is quite extensive; there will be media centres in the main locations for the Papal Visit and a media centre in London which will receive a live feed of all the Pope’s movements while he’s in the UK.

Further details about media accreditation are available online at thepapalvisit.org.uk in our news and media area, but if you want to check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website it’s fco.gov.uk – search for “Papal Visit 2010”.