September 2 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

5-PETER-JENNINGS

Church fears Papal visit security measures may prove off-putting

Birmingham Council chiefs say they expect 3000 travellers to come to the city during the next few weeks for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit but security measures are already causing concern within the Church.

A CHURCH spokesman fears security for the Beatification Mass for Cardinal John Henry Newman in Cofton Park on September 19 may in fact be putting pilgrims off.

Travellers

The council has plans for temporary camps to house gypsy pilgrims’ caravans on disused industrial land where they can erect toilet and water facilities.

“There are no tickets left for Cofton Park but the people I have spoken to say that they will be happy just to hear the Pope’s voice,” city parks chief councillor Martin Mullaney said. “There will be a lot of economic benefits for the city of the Papal visit and also some costs, including this one.

“I have met with the travellers and they say they will do their best to keep land tidy but because of the weather they cause damage to the land.”

Impact of security

A spokesman for Birmingham Archdiocese has said that security measures in place for the visit of the Pope next month may be putting pilgrims off attending.

Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate an open-air Mass in front of 70,000 people at Cofton Park on Sunday September 19, to mark the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. The park is to open from 2am.

“I’m not criticising the security in any way—the government have to decide not the Catholic Church,” Mr Jennings said. “I felt the security was draconian—meaning very rigorous—which I was, but I’m expressing the anguish and anxiety that’s been expressed to us by many of the older people in the archdiocese.

“They are very concerned about getting up in the middle of the night and getting on coaches. The security is extremely rigorous and has put a large number of people off.”

Hyde Park

Other parts of the English Papal itinerary are developing, with news that Liam McNally, 14, the north Manchester Catholic schoolboy who shot to fame on TV show Britain’s Got Talent is to perform for Pope Benedict at the Hyde Park vigil.

The Moston schoolboy will sing a choral version of Our Father in front of 280,000 in Hyde Park and a global audience of millions.

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