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Faithful are urged to line the streets to greet Pontiff

Photo: PA

The faithful are being urged to line the streets for the Pope during his visit to Britain in September.

After some confusion about whether Catholics would be encouraged to see Pope Benedict XVI as he made his way to events during his four-day stay in Britain, organisers have said they hope people will come out to see him.

Tickets for papal events are becoming ever more difficult to obtain as many parishes are experiencing a high demand for them, so organisers are urging Catholics to consider other options.

According to Mgr Andrew Summersgill, the bishops’ papal visit coordinator, the Pope will use the Popemobile, a white fortified Mercedes with a glass cage, for some parts of the trip so that people can greet him. When the final programme is finished, he said, people will have opportunities to greet the Pope.

“Some of his movements will 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,” he said. “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.”

The Popemobile plans also include the possibility of the Pope being driven around Cofton Park in Birmingham before and after the Beatification of John Henry Newman so that assembled pilgrims can see him.

Some reports said that the idea of the Popemobile for Cofton Park had been dropped because of rising costs, but Canon Patrick Browne, the papal visit coordinator for the Archdiocese of Birmingham, said they were still working on “allowing as many people as possible to view the Holy Father as he passes by and to welcome him and support the Church in its mission”.

Speaking at a press conference in Birmingham, Canon Browne said organisers were still working with the various agencies to get the Popemobile to Birmingham. He said there were fears that the slope at Cofton Park might be too dangerous for the Popemobile.

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham said: “If you think of the papal audiences in Rome which are very often in St Peter’s Square and the huge numbers of people who come there.

“It is an ideal way of letting people who are at some distance from where the Pope speaks to actually see something of him up close. I think that remains a legitimate aspiration.”

He also announced that the American deacon miraculously cured with the help of Cardinal Newman will have a major role in the Birmingham cardinal’s beatification Mass.

Deacon Jack Sullivan, from Massachusetts, whose spinal disorder disappeared after he prayed for the intercession of Cardinal Newman, will proclaim the Gospel and act as deacon at the beatification Mass.

The miracle, subjected to rigorous tests by a series of doctors and then by theologians, was necessary to advance the process of beatification. The Church requires one miracle attributed to a Servant of God for beatification and a second one for canonisation.

Archbishop Longley said: “Another thing that is at the heart of the beatification is a recognition of Cardinal Newman’s intercessory powers. We can speak about prayer to the saints as part of the life of the Church.

“We feel a closeness to those who are part of the communion of the saints. So people do pray and have prayed to Cardinal Newman that his prayers to Almighty God may assist him in their daily lives. This has been recognised through the Church’s miraculous cure of an American deacon who is living and working in the diocese of Boston. I also had the chance of meeting him quite recently. I am glad that he will be coming to Birmingham together with his wife, Carol, and some of his family as my personal guest for the beatification itself.”

Mr Sullivan and his wife will take part in a procession to honour Newman at the beginning of the Mass at Cofton Park during the rite of Beatification.

At the start of the rite, Archbishop Longley will formally request the beatification of Cardinal Newman from the Pope. The archbishop also said that the beatification was one of the main reasons for which Pope Benedict accepted the Government’s invitation to come to Britain.

He said: “The beatification comes as the culmination of the four-day visit of the Holy Father and I think that the interest and excitement towards the beatification will build up inevitably within those four days. I think that’s right because, as far as I understand it, one of the things which has persuaded Pope Benedict to accept this invitation on the part of Her Majesty’s Government, to accept also the welcome from our own Catholic Church in England and Wales and Scotland, is precisely because of the beatification of Cardinal Newman.

“His own interest is in this and it is significant that he has decided, has chosen to do something which is quite unusual today.”

Fr Jan Nowotnik, the Birmingham-based Liturgical advisor for the papal Mass said the Mass would predominantly be in English but that most likely the canon of the Mass would be in Latin to emphasise the universality of the Church. The bidding prayers during the Mass will be in Irish, Welsh, Vietnamese, Punjabi, French and German to reflect the character of Birmingham diocese.

Some of the sacred vessels which will be used for the beatification Mass have been commissioned locally in Birmingham while others have been commissioned by the bishops’ conference and will be used throughout the Pope’s stay. The Pope’s vestments and the dalmatics being worn by the deacons will come from Rome while a company is providing new vestments for the concelebrating bishops.