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

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The eighth weekly audio update from the desk of the Papal Visit Co-ordinator, Mgr Andrew Summersgill, looks at the decision to hold the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman at Cofton Park in Birmingham rather than at Coventry Airport.

You can listen to the audio by clicking below:

thepapalvisit.org.uk

One significant piece of news is that the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman will now take place in Birmingham at Cofton Park, rather than in Coventry. Can you explain why this decision was made?

Mgr Andrew Summersgill: Yes, well the normal planning process for a Papal Visit is that there is an initial visit by the planners from the Vatican, and an initial programme is looked at, and the venues are looked at. We have been working on those proposals and that itinerary, and then there is always a second visit to look in more detail at the plans and to try and firm them up.

During the planning phase it became clear that it would be more appropriate to look at a venue that is much more closely associated with Cardinal Newman. The original intention had been to locate the beatification in a venue that had some experience of a Papal celebration – Coventry Airport. But as I say we came back to looking at a place that would be more explicitly connected with the ministry and with the life and the death of Cardinal Newman, and to try to weave that theme much, much more obviously and carefully into the day of the beatification. So Cofton was chosen because it is immediately adjacent to Rednal, which is the house were Cardinal Newman would go and spend some time, both to work and to have some peace and quiet. It is of course the site of his burial, and as I understand it, it would also be a place with which he personally was quite familiar, where he would have walked and visited while he was at Rednal. So it provides a really good opportunity to have Pope Benedict celebrating Cardinal Newman’s beatification in a place that’s intimately connected with the Cardinal himself.

And, as we mentioned at the very start, the reconnaissance party has been over from the Vatican. We usually see that ahead of the publication of the precise line-by-line itinerary, so we’re getting close to that now aren’t we?

Mgr AS: We are getting closer to that, yes, and during the visit there were some quite detailed meetings, as there would be for any visit of this sort, between the Foreign Office protocol people and representatives of the Holy See, carefully looking at the different arrangements. In terms of those arrangements where the Church is taking the lead, those arrangements where the Government is taking the lead, and all the different elements that go into making up visits like this. And it really was quite a thorough and careful examination of the plans for the whole Visit.

Is this a very significant milestone, that we are now so close to knowing exactly where Pope Benedict’s going to be and indeed when?

Mgr AS: I think it is, yes, because it’s a time when things begin to become fixed in stone in a way that they haven’t been up until now.

thepapalvisit.org.uk