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

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Tune in for a weekly audio update with the Co-ordinator for the Papal Visit, Mgr Andrew Summersgill about all the preparations..

Welcome to the first of our weekly audio updates from the desk of the Papal Visit Co-ordinator, Mgr Andrew Summersgill. This week we discuss a key subject – invitations to papal events in September.

You can listen to the audio by clicking on the MP3 player on the link below: http://www.thepapalvisit.org.uk/2010-Visit/Visit-Information/Weekly-audio-update-on-the-Papal-Visit-10-May-2010


The Church is responsible for three main gatherings with Pope Benedict:

– The Mass in Glasgow (Thursday, 16 September)
 – The Mass of Beatification in the Midlands (Sunday, 19 September)
 – The evening Prayer Vigil in London (Saturday, 18 September)

Have invitations been allocated to the dioceses of Scotland, England and Wales for the large events?

Mgr Andrew Summersgill: At the moment, we not yet fully certain of the exact numbers we can accommodate. This is because there are health and safety issues, security considerations and comfort requirements. Once the number of attendees at each venue has been decided upon invitations will be allocated to the dioceses for each of these large events.

How will invitations be allocated?

Mgr AS: At this stage, it will probably be done in terms of the relative size of the diocese. Another factor will be the geographic proximity of the diocese to a particular gathering. Decisions will be made with a view to making sure as many people as feasibly possible can be with Pope Benedict.

Transport to and from venues

Mgr AS: We are working with a limited number of transport providers. Why a limited number? It is quite complex, logistically, to bring a large number of people to one place and then safely back again. Discussions are ongoing. Once transport information is available, it will be sent to the dioceses of Scotland, England and Wales.

Diocesan Co-ordinators

Mgr AS: To pass on important information and updates to parishes, each diocese in Scotland, England and Wales will appoint a diocesan coordinator for the papal visit. It is intended the dioceses will appoint coordinators by the start of June 2010. Everything will be focussed into the dioceses. Each diocese receives an allocation of places. The diocese will then assess how best, for each local area, to distribute those invitations.

Can I just turn up at a Papal Visit venue?

Mgr AS: I’m really sorry to say that’s just not possible today [unlike when Pope John Paul II visited the UK in 1982]. There are particularly stringent health and safety requirements, there are security concerns, and so we are working hard with police, local authorities and the relevant government offices to maximise the number of people we can comfortably, safely and securely accommodate with Pope Benedict.

Forming groups to attend papal events

Mgr AS: It’s important to stress that coming to these large gatherings is going to have to be within groups. Why is this? Logistics – safe and comfortable transport to and from venues but also for important security reasons. We are working closely with the police so people can travel together and be cleared through security together.

The Virtual Visit

Mgr AS: Not everyone who would like to go to a venue to see Pope Benedict will be able to do so. For this reason, a lot of work is going on with broadcasters and web partners to ensure that as much of Pope Benedict’s time in the UK as possible will be broadcast live on TV and online here on www.thepapalvisit.org.uk. This means many more people will be able to be part of the Virtual Visit online – even when it isn’t physically possible to be present with him.