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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 to Fr Andrew about the release of the line by line itinerary with full timings.
Why have we waited until just a month before the Visit to get this full line by line breakdown?
Mgr Andrew Summersgill: Normally the Holy See would produce a line by line itinerary for a Papal Visit before this – usually two months beforehand. However with the summer break and also following discussions between the Government here, the security services, the Holy See and ourselves, it was decided that it would be more appropriate to wait until about a month before the Visit. So this morning the itinerary is being published in this country and in the Vatican.
We’ve had outline versions of the itinerary online for many months now, but there are a few additions, I’m thinking of St Peter’s in Vauxhall, tell us a little bit about that.
Mgr AS: That’s right, St Peter’s home for the elderly is in Vauxhall, it’s run by the Little Sisters of the Poor and on the Saturday afternoon of Pope Benedict’s visit he will go to St Peter’s to visit the community there and to visit the elderly residents and their families. The importance of this visit is that within all the great gatherings and events of the Papal Visit there’s a real opportunity for the Holy Father to go as a pastor to those who cannot go to him – to those who are housebound, to those who are elderly. And it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the pastoral care that is given, day in day out, by so many people in the Church. I also think it’s a chance to underline the importance the Church places, and particularly Pope Benedict places, in his own teaching and ministry, in the value of life – the value of life from its beginning to its natural end. To visit a home where those who are coming towards the end of their life are cared for both spiritually and physically, is a real value and sign to our community and our society. It’s a great thing for the Holy Father to do while he’s here.
You hinted at it there, but would you class this as an affirmation of other religious orders and other charisms and vocations?
Mgr AS: Absolutely, and it’s not just for religious orders either. It’s the great deal of work that is done and the care that is given by people across the Church, if you just think for example of the number of ministers of the Eucharist who every week take Holy Communion to people who are sick, housebound or elderly. There’s a great mission there and this is one way of celebrating that. Pope Benedict will also do this whilst people are gathering in Hyde Park to celebrate the different parts of the life of the Church in this country. And that Vigil, of course, reaches its climax with his presence, his words, and the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. So the two do run together quite deliberately and offer a real sign of the life of the Church.
And a group that don’t always get a shout, but deserve one – the deacons. They have an important part to play throughout the Papal Visit don’t they?
Mgr AS: They do, yes. Deacons will be present at all the celebrations. There will be deacons present at Hyde Park, and of course at the Mass of beatification in Cofton Park. Deacon Jack Sullivan, who was cured through the intercession of Cardinal Newman – he will be present as a deacon at that celebration.
The other line item that’s raised its head now is the Holy Father’s visit to a key venue when we’re talking about the beatification – the Birmingham Oratory…
Mgr AS: Yes, that’s right. Having celebrated the Mass of Beatification in Cofton Park, Pope Benedict will travel to the Birmingham Oratory in order to be the first person to pray at the new shrine for, as he will be then, “Blessed” John Henry Newman. The shrine is adjacent to the Oratory church. He will then go into the Oratory residence to the rooms of Cardinal Newman, and he will be able to spend some personal time in a place resonant with the history of the Cardinal. His books are there, his desk is there, his personal chapel is there, and it will be a really special moment for the Holy Father to be there having literally just celebrated the beatification of Cardinal Newman.
Finally, Father Andrew, a quick word on Popemobile routes…
Mgr AS: With the publication of the itinerary we are now able gladly to confirm that there will be times, during the four days that the Holy Father is here, when he will be travelling in the Popemobile. This means that he will be much more visible and will be moving more slowly. This will present a real chance for people to gather and to greet and welcome the Pope. This is planned to happen in Edinburgh on the day that Pope Benedict arrives, in London on the second day, the Friday, and in the capital again on Saturday.
You can view and download the full itinerary online:
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