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

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Welcome to our audio update from the desk of the Papal Visit Co-ordinator, Mgr Andrew Summersgill. This week we hear about the final planning visit, the Papal Visit Missal, souvenirs and Papal Visit events.

Click for article and audio on thepapalvisit.org.uk.

What’s been happening over the past few days Father?

Monsignor Andrew Summersgill: Well, quite a lot has been happening recently. We have just had a party of officials over from the Vatican for a final planning meeting. That went very well – they managed to visit most of the places where Pope Benedict will be going and the group has now returned to the Vatican. The final stage of this process will see us get together at the end of August to make sure that all the details are properly in place.

Also in the last few days we have been able to finalise the text for the handbook, the Missal, which will enable those who are participating in some of the gatherings with the Holy Father to follow the Visit. It will also be a valuable accompaniment to those celebrating the Visit in their parishes, at home, on television or online. So that’s all come together now, it’s gone to the printers, and will be distributed in the couple of weeks leading up to the Papal Visit.

When the Papal Visit Missal does become available and we are ready to distribute it, we will publish details of the liturgies here on the website, so that people will be able to follow online as well. So it’s nice to have that in place because it’s one of the key things required to bring the whole of the Visit together.

Also in the coming days, we will be letting you know more about the merchandising and souvenirs that will be available for the Pope’s Visit. We have had quite a lot of enquiries from parishes and groups looking to purchase papal flags and papal decorations for their churches, halls and schools. We’re sending all that information out and people will be able to order that quite soon. Again the place to look this information will thepapalvisit.org.uk – the online shop and full details will be there.
Finally, with the Diocesan Co-ordinators, we’ve firmed up putting the groups together who will be attending the Papal gatherings – this is going well. Clearly there are a lot of queries and people here are doing their best to respond to those to offer the clarity needed. We’re in touch with the security services and the different local authorities in order to make sure that we’re giving the right information. I think it’s important to stress again that one does have to be part of a group in order to attend one of the Masses or the Prayer Vigil, and the dioceses and local parishes all have that information.

But I think it’s also important to underline that there will be other opportunities for people to see the Holy Father in person. When the final programme is published in about a month’s time, people will be able to see that there are opportunities to greet Pope Benedict as he is travelling around. Some of his movements be in the Popemobile precisely so that people can gather and greet him as he travels, and that will be made quite clear when the programme is published. I hope that as many people as possible would take that opportunity to be able to welcome Pope Benedict as he goes by – that would be great.