Papal visit to the UK: people will have to pay to see the Pope? WDTPRS POLL


From CNS:

Catholics in England will have to pay to attend some events during Pope Benedict XVI’s Sept. 16-19 trip to Scotland and England, according to reports in our client paper in London, the Catholic Herald. Catholics will pay 25 pounds ($39) to attend the beatification Mass at Birmingham’s Cofton Park Sept. 19, and the 1,000 priests concelebrating also will have to pay. Attendees at the Sept. 18 vigil at London’s Hyde Park will pay 10 pounds. Read the reasoning behind ticket distribution and prices. [Will non-Catholics have a different price?]

In Washington, Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the U.S. bishops’ media relations director [When will she comment on the National Catholic Reporter?] who has been involved in the planning of three papal trips, said no admission was ever charged for the U.S. events.

In Britain, since tickets will be hard to come by, Catholics are being encouraged to line the streets to see Pope Benedict.

A CNS story is one thing, coming as it does from the USA.

But the UK’s best Catholic weekly The Catholic Herald has a good piece.  VOTE HERE, but do also visit the Catholic Herald to read and post comments:

Debate: Is it right to charge for papal Masses?

Is it an outrage or a prudent step to avoid weighing the Church down with debt?

Pilgrims attending the three open-air Masses during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain will have to pay as much as £25 (US$39) for the privilege.

The Church insists that pilgrims are not being charged to attend the Masses themselves but to cover transport and other essential costs.

But the announcement has provoked furious reactions, particularly in Scotland. Even Hindus have criticised the decision, saying that no one should be charged to hear the word of God. Others have gone as far as to suggest that it is a form of simony.

Still others argue that charging is simply a necessary and prudent step if the Church is not to plunge into debt as it did after John Paul II’s visit in 1982.

So, is it right to charge for papal Masses?


I put it to you.

Please vote and explain your vote in the combox, below.  Pick the best answer.


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  1. Leonius says:

    But VIP’s get in for free.

    Is simony returning in England and Wales? We are talking about paying to attend a mass here.

  2. Jack Hughes says:

    I’ve got a ticket for Cofton park but I’m still annoyed that we have to ‘pay’ to attend Mass offered by the Holy Father – travel costs I can understand but a return coach to birmingham does NOT cost £25 per person.

  3. PS says:

    Why the exclamation point after Sr. Walsh’s title? She is, after all, the Director of the USSCB’s media relations department. Insofar as the US Bishops have a single voice and presence, the USCCB would be it (it follows then, that if we can ever talk about the US Bishops as a collective having a media relations director, it would be Sr. Mary Walsh).

  4. Philangelus says:

    I absolutely understand the need for tickets to regulate entrance to a Mass that’s likely to draw far more people than would be safe to attend.

    That’s why we invented things like the lottery, or like giving out a certain number of tickets to each diocese and having the Bishop distribute them among the parishes.

    BTW, I recently pointed a local bishop toward someone in his diocese that was selling tickets to healing Masses (sending printouts of the web pages about ticket sales). I received a letter thanking me, and a week later, although you still need a ticket to get in, you no longer need to purchase it.

  5. Henry Edwards says:

    I believe it was at Damien Thompson’s blog that I first read reports of staff discussions at the British analogue of the USCCB of ideas for limiting the number of Catholics turning out to see the pope. For some reason, they feared that unseemly crowds of British Catholics appearing to react enthusiastically to the present pope would send an “unfortunate message”.

    Thus they first moved the beatification Mass to Birmingham’s Cofton Park from the much larger venue that had originally been announced publicly.

    I wonder whether they will now have to jack up the ticket price from 25 pounds to 50 or 100 pounds to finally achieve their objective of showing that — just like they themselves — the public really doesn’t like Pope Benedict.

    And whether the idea of charging (instead of paying) priests to celebrate Mass at a papal function may raise this sort of scheming to a new level of originality. (Too many supportive priests might be an especially “unfortunate message”.)

  6. JonM says:

    Observation: thriving communities of women pledged to Christ’s service don’t ape the secular world and do not clamor for administrative power.

    I think it is typical of a bureaucracy to think it is acceptable to charge people $40 to go to mass. It demonstrates a mindset that the Mass is a performance, a sociological event only.

    I am so thankful that the new priests are overwhelmingly masculine, confident, and courageous. In two decades, bishops will no longer be weak, timid, and hen pecked by nuns who have lost their way.

  7. Charivari Rob says:

    I think it would be wise to reread the news links.

    The read I get from it is that this will be a suggested donation to defray the costs and that anyone who has been selected from their parish/whatever to attend will not be excluded due to lack of means to pay. Note that it said “…up to [X amount].

    It really sounds a lot like a couple of Papal visits here in the USA (one Mass I attended, one I heard about from friends who attended). You’re bused in from remote points, no personal vehicles, we had a bus donation in our parish (I think), you don’t receive your “ticket” until the bus is en route, only the people on the parish’s list get on the bus. In some parishes of sufficient means, the pastor paid up front for his party and took a free-will offering from them later.

    A lot of this is to keep tickets in the control of the authorities of the Church, so they can’t be scalped or otherwise transferred.

    In addition to the fact that it would a scandal to “charge admission” to a Mass, I would not be surprised to read that it is most carefully structured as a donation for costs in order to head off attempts at suit for discrimination in sales of tickets to a “public event”, which it’s not (not in the same sense a rock concert is).

  8. Paulo says:

    Mt 21…

    12 Et intravit Jesus in templum Dei, et ejiciebat omnes vendentes et ementes in templo, et mensas numulariorum, et cathedras vendentium columbas evertit: 13 et dicit eis : Scriptum est : Domus mea domus orationis vocabitur : vos autem fecistis illam speluncam latronum.

    Just the humble rationale for my vote

  9. shane says:

    Yes. Believe it or not the Bishops of England and Wales are still paying for John Paul II’s visit in 1982.

    This visit is turning out to be a disaster….

  10. Having free tickets, for crowd control purposes, is fine.

    Having a fundraising drive, giant papal merchandise sale, or even a humongous raffle on E-Bay to pay for the papal visit is fine. Asking for parishes to pitch in some cash, even, would be fine.

    Having people pay for tickets to Mass is a scandal. Even if structured as freewill donations, it just looks really really bad.

  11. Lori Pieper says:

    It looks like the English Church’s horrendous mismanagement of the visit is continuing according to form.

    Catholics in every corner of the globe have always been let into papal events without charge. That Catholics should donate to defray the costs if they can — that’s always been done, and is a splendid idea, but charging for a ticket for Mass — or something that even looks like it — is going to be another unlooked-for public relations nightmare. At least we don’t have the Vatican to blame for this one.

    This reminds me, by the way, of a trip to Florence three years ago. We were on “side excursion” from Rome, where my family and I were staying with the Franciscan friars during a conference I was speaking at.

    Every church we entered in Florence asked for $5 (i.e. equivalent in euros) right up front before we could enter. There was a stab at maintaining free entrance – “Oh, if you’ve just come to pray, it’s free, but if you want to look at the art works, it’s $5.” The “free entrance” led to a small set of pews roped off near the main altar, from which you were not allowed to wander around the rest of the church. No consideration for people who wanted to both pray and look at the art works.

    Needless to say, I thought this very tacky. It’s the only place in Italy that this has ever happened to me. They had a huge amount of scaffolding up around most of the churches, which were evidently undergoing restoration at the time, and they obviously needed to defray the costs somehow, but still — tacky. Churches are and should be always free to enter.

  12. Magpie says:

    I think entry to the Mass should be free. A collection should be held during Mass. I’d probably give £20 or more, but the money is not the point. The point is, the venue should be bigger to allow as many Catholics as possible to attend, without charging them. I understand though that the UK is terribly anti-Catholic and so they have to ticket the event. My recommendations: a bigger venue and allow more Catholics, including myself, who would like to attend from Ireland, to come along, by setting up an electronic registration system for parishes to use to allow only genuine Catholics, known to the Church, to attend.

  13. Alex P says:

    It’s a terrible decision. People travelling on a coach for 40 people, maybe travelling 10 miles down the road, are asked to pay £25 each- that’s £1000 from 1 coach to go on a 10 minute drive. Something just isn’t right about that.

    Everything about this trip seems to be about making it as difficult as possible for people to see the Pope- as though the Bishops don’t really want him here, and organisers are embarrassed in this liberal day and age to be having a Pope visit who is viewed as a conservative/traditionalist. Expected attendance at the Beatification Mass- 80,000. Can they really not cope with higher numbers than that? They have more people turning up to a gay pride parade here- the last one was supposed to have seen 1 million. You almost sense that whoever is organising it wants the whole trip to be as low-key as possible, so reports won’t be of hundreds of thousands or even more than a million turning out- rather a much smaller figure, which can be provided as evidence that the Pope is a marginal figure, and nowhere near as popular as his predecessor. Given the rather poor way the Bishops here have defended the Pope over the last year, or their lack of enthusiasm over the Pope’s liturgical reforms, one senses they are quite happy for the visit to come and go quietly without causing much fuss or embarrassment, and so the status quo can be returned to fairly swiftly afterwards.

  14. lacrossecath says:

    I would say half and half. If people want to pay for up front seats, fine. But leave back seats for people who are willing to camp out.

    Let’s face it. Stadium Masses suck. Let Mass be in historic or significant churches and be by invite only. Let the Holy Father reach the people by preaching in other venues.

  15. talonh says:

    Sorry, no matter what justification is used, and despite the real need to pay for things, Simony by any other name is still Simony. I think this is very sad indeed.

  16. Ef-lover says:

    Isn’t that what the collection plate is for?

  17. I voted no. Perhaps if the Catholic Church in England got its act together and people were better disposed to be more generous of their own accord in their contribution to the Sunday collection, this situation would not have arisen.

  18. asperges says:

    The whole sorry tale is one of muddle, poor administration and severe restrictions on the ordinary Catholic. I would love to see the Holy Father, but parishes have delegates according to size of between 8 and 16 I am told. Ticket entrance only.

    It has not been decided how many clergy will attend: certainly many will not be able to because of parish duties. Doubtless the inevitable small numbers of lay and clergy will be taken as disinterest and unfavourably compared with JP II’s last visit. One has to wonder whether the chaos is just incompetence or deliberate sabotage.

    I will probably go to London on the train and hope to see the the Pope from the street. In any case, the Mases will be the usual circus, no doubt. I gather the Birmingham do involves travelling very, very early and being marshalled in what sounds more of an ordeal than a spiritual treat.

  19. YadaYada says:

    So… Let me get this straight…

    A priest would PAY… to CONCELEBRATE ?

    Just do a TLM on a small altar.

    Forget Communion for everyone. Just the Holy Father.

    Forget handing out backpacks of trinkets to everyone.

    Forget the live media. They can write about it later.

    Forget wierd vestments. Let the new Marini bring some with him.

    Payment for Mass just soooooooooooooooooo cheapens everything and everyone.

    Excuse me while I go vomit.

    Back again.

    Now, how can I join the new Anglican Use Catholics. They wouldn’t do this, would they?

  20. Jack Hughes says:

    @Jeffrey Pinvan

    hear hear; another thing I don’t get is why only Cofton park is being used, conventry aipoprt could hold nearly 4 times as many people and is only 33 miles away, 4 times as many people = only £7.50 per person (if you must pay).

  21. Supertradmum says:

    This is not simony, a sin which involves the motive of paying for spiritual favors without the heart and mind being engaged. The British government is not paying for any of the huge public meetings, including Mass and the Catholic Church is England is a small, minority Church which is very poor. I think that Americans who have not any experience with the standard of living of the English, who were on World War II rationing until 1964, and America not being a Catholic population who has seen their families and properties destroyed, should either have nothing to say about this or the American Catholics should offer to help. The English Catholic Church is indeed still paying on debts from John Paul II’s visit. Wake up, Americans and please realize that the Church here is much more comfortably off than in most, if not all, other countries.

    I would love to teach religion for free, but I have to eat and have shelter over my head.

    The Church in England had no choice if the Pope was to come. So, consider it a free-will offering, and if one does not want to pay, don’t go.

    As to VIPs getting into the Masses free, why the envy? I have been to several Papal Masses in Rome and I can assure you that not everyone who wants tickets gets them, and those with “inside” connections are more likely to get tickets that those who are not connected with either Rome or the Vatican.

    This paying is not simony, but a necessity for the venue, safety, porto-potties, clean-up, etc. I think Americans seems very provincial in their view of what others experience in other countries.

  22. Henry Edwards says:

    asperges: “One has to wonder whether the chaos is just incompetence or deliberate sabotage.”

    I must say that “over here”, several thousand miles from the scene, this does not seem so puzzling. Is the answer less obvious “over there”?

  23. Prof. Basto says:

    Isnt this SIMONY?

    I believe it is.

    Simony is a “deliberate intention of buying or selling for a temporal price such things as are spiritual of annexed unto spirituals”.

    Papal Mass is certainly a worthy spiritual thing, and something many people would like to purchase their attendance to. Allowing the selling of seats privileges those who are well off and is, I’m sorry to say it, absolutely simoniacal in nature in my opinion.

    Masses and Sacraments, even those celebrated by the highest ranking prelates and bishops, even Popes, shouldn’t have seats sold for a price.

    Sure we have to contribute to the Church. People do it. They give money during Mass, they give money (those who can) prior to weddings, funerals, when they ask the priest to pray for a certain intention, etc, etc. etc; but attendance at Sacred Actions shouldn’t be CONDITIONED to the BUYING OF TICKETS, because, once you make it CONDITIONAL ON PAYING A PRICE, that is the crime of simony.

  24. Supertradmum says:

    PS The Catholic population of America is about 23% and the Catholic population of England is about 8%. Please, where is the mercy and help for our brethren, instead of harsh and ignorant criticisms.

  25. shane says:

    The whole thing should never have happened in the first place. The invitation for a state visit – not a pastoral one – was issued by Gordon Brown in a probable attempt to shore up the Labour Party’s Catholic vote. It’s going to leave the English Church in debt for decades.

    The BBC are showing a savage documentary on the Pope, supposedly covering up abuse, a few days before he arrives. Channel 4 are commissioning gay rights activist and staunch opponent of Benedict, Peter Tatchell, to undertake a ‘documentary’ on the Pope. The media will also discover alleged cover-up and abuse incidents during his visit. I’ll be very surprised if something bad doesn’t happen.

  26. Jack Hughes says:


    It may not be simony in a technical sense but it sure smells like it

  27. Jim says:

    In Scotland, the Bishops placed the travel admin in the hands of the unenthusiastic English Bishops Office. The results are dire.

    Our Bishops have arranged a free procession in Edinburgh and booked a suitable venue for Mass in Glasgow, unlike the far smaller place booked for English Catholics. They have commissioned a special Mass setting by James Macmillan, of the new English translation, which will have an early and approved first use in Scotland.

    The English Bishops office has been late at every turn. Most recently, they provided details of the travel to our Parish Priest on Tuesday. All parishioners attending must pay £20 for travel and a CD. All names to be submitted by Sunday. Yes that’s right Tuesday to Sunday as a notice period. For an event which was known about months ago and with people still on holiday. The parishes are forbidden the use of their own transport and the price is the same for two miles or two hundred miles. And in Scotland 200 miles can be a verrry long way.

    It couldn’t have been less well organised if the organisers had wanted the visit to appear unpopular.

  28. pelerin says:

    We are all going to have to be extremely vigilant if we are lucky enough to be able to attend any of the ceremonies.

    On Damian Thompson’s blog a couple of days ago someone wrote: ‘I am so looking forward to the London protest on September 18th.’ This is typical of several I have seen on other websites and I fear they are not joking when they say that they have their eggs ready to throw. There is no means of telling whether these are just individuals or whether they are part of organised groups which may disrupt any ceremonies planned.

    If some of the charges go towards paying for police protection and the security of the Holy Father during his visit then I think the charges are acceptable and necessary. However I understood that as this is a State visit the cost of policing will be born by the Government but perhaps this is not the case.

  29. medievalist says:

    No need for long points here. No other Papal Mass, as far as I know, has ever charged anything, even to defray transport costs. You just show up like any other Mass. It’s public…like super public!

    Since those without tickets will be denied entry, whereas those unable to make the ‘contribution’ to Father for their wedding will still be wed regardless, this is basically simony, brought to you by the bishops of England and Wales.

  30. shane says:

    In one of Damian’s blogs a reader asks: “Why are Catholics simultaneously being asked to pay for the visit and then denied the opportunity to see the Pope?” Damian suggests that Catholics who want to go but can’t get tickets will turn up anyway and there will be
    chaos as they are refused entry.

  31. Genna says:

    I understand that 2000 VIPS (that’s 2000) will not pay a cent to get into the Papal Mass. Many of these will be “establishment” Catholics who could well afford a sizeable contribution. Without naming names, many are not even loyal to the Pope and have publicly stated views which are in direct contravention to the Church’s teaching. But they’ll want to be seen in the front rows at the event.
    Thousands of ordinary Catholics who do not have the means to shell out the kind of money being asked for, on top of their contributions via parish collections, will be excluded.
    Some parishes have not even been given a single ticket for the beatification Mass.
    No provision appears to have been made for the disabled who are expected to negotiate a long distance from the bus parks to the venue.
    The larger capacity Coventry Airport was not booked in time by the organisers. Money is being thrown away on “liturgical entertainment” for the youth gathering at Hyde Park in London. The Pope is just going to love that.
    The hopeless hierarchy has advised that the best thing to do is to stay at home and watch it all on TV where, no doubt, we will be treated to their grinning faces in close-up.
    Am I angry? You bet. Thanks, guys. Thanks for nothing.

  32. Supertradmum says:

    I am sorry, but I suspect that those establishment Catholics have already given most of the money behind the visit to begin with-the old Catholic families have been generous in the past. I find the judgment and lack of civility towards both the English Bishops and English Catholic families very prejudicial, without any solid facts or real historical precedences. Many of the schools, abbeys, monasteries, etc owe their 19th century foundations to huge infusions of cash from the old families, which still give.

    What is expected in England or any other European country varies according to the customs and religious sensibilities of the countries. For example, a world youth day in Germany would be very diverse in organization and planning than would be one in Spain, the next one,for instance, for historical and religious, not to mention, political reasons.

    As to disorganization, this has been a hallmark of the English Catholic Church since the restoration. I worked for the Church in London and it was obvious that the type of organization which one would expect in America just was not part of the culture, and still isn’t.

    As to anger, I suggest to those who feel left out that they volunteer for the still many things which need helpers. I get a regular newsletter from the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton and they still need volunteers for almost all the events, including choir members (one needs to try out)for at least one of the Papal Masses. Personally, when I worked for the Church in London, I found the lack of organization endearing, and less officious than many of the Church dioceses or institutions where I have worked in the US.

    Anyway, these activities in which the Pope is engaged, are not entertainments for those of us in the Church, but liturgies, talks, visits, which take an enormous amount of volunteer hours. No one should feel left out, but jump in and help out somewhere. And, simply, why should any secular government pay for what are religious events? Those in the Church should pay for the privilege of having the Pope on English soil.

  33. Supertradmum says:

    PS and I am sure that Father Z can vouch for an tremendous lack of organization in the Vatican, from where some of the changes of venue and scheduling in England have come.

  34. Supertradmum says:

    Dear Jack,

    For simony to really a sin, does not someone have to benefit from money? Any monies collected are already allocated for the necessities for the visit, and not a collection for extra monies for the Vatican, an idea which is absurd. If you do get to a Mass, I hope you can find a Port-a-Loo if you need one, compliments of someone paying for a ticket somewhere else.

  35. Jack Hughes says:

    Dear Supertradmum

    a) I’m paying for my ticket for the beatification Mass

    b) I said that it smelt like simony as in £30 sounds a little more than needed to cover transport costs ect (a return coach journey from Bristol to Birmigham on a Sunday costs £14 (Maximum), the fact that people can’t arange their own transport, and the fact that only in England would this happen, from what I understand Americans didn’t have to pay to see the Pope at the Stadium Mass’s two years ago.

    As for the argument that ‘old money Catholics’ have already given SO WHAT!! if it is the case that these old money Catholics can ‘buy’ a place with the Pope then I would say that Simony was Definately Happening!! add to the fact that many of these Catholics have brazenly stated their opposition to Church teaching it certainly smells like they are trying to shore up their credebility with an increasenly dischanted Catholic community.

    Replying to the lack of respect shown to the English Bishops- They have thrown away their respect by countermanding the Holy Fathers decrees (+ Rouche on SP), publically dissenting from Church teaching and disciplines (+ Malcome Mahoone O.P on priestly celibacy), consorting in pagan worship services and allowing muslims to use Catholic chapels for services (+Nicolls and Card. O connor) and failing to do their job (+ Corey saying that the Church has got it wrong in terms of evangelisation). The only three I actually trust are +Longley, +Doyle and + (Emeritus)Donoghue (and possibly +Lang although he’s not keen on traditon.

    I pray for them but they do get on my nerves

  36. Jack Hughes says:

    PS the record of the Bishops wacky activities and crazy statments are all in the Public domain.

  37. carl b says:

    I would say, do not charge admission. It doesn’t strike me as right to charge for the privilege of attending Mass, whoever the celebrant is. But do have a schedule of suggested donations: standard, student, senior. This would balance the need to have events paid for and the outrage at being charged for Mass.

  38. Supertradmum says:

    Quotation from Robert Barr, online news. The Rev. Thomas Reese, a longtime Vatican watcher, said papal visits to the developed world are immensely expensive for the local church, especially when the local government doesn’t pick up the full tab.

    He cited the costs of everything from renting stadiums to portable toilets to hotels for Vatican officials and insurance.

    “In Third World countries, life is simpler: no insurance,” he said in an e-mail. “Just find an open field, throw a rug over a wooden platform.”

    He recalled that when Pope John Paul II visited the United States in 1987, the archbishop of Mobile declined to host him because he didn’t want to bankrupt his archdiocese. “He said he would lead a delegation to New Orleans to cheer the pope” instead, Reese noted.

  39. Mitchell NY says:

    Somehow, someway it is connected to money. And money being the root of so many evils is what is being sought. No matter how you spin it. Get the money from elsewhere, cancel an ecumenical meeting with all its’ expenses, loging, housing etc. Many faithful would not care in the least. I don’t think it is so much as people being stingy (have Catholics been known to be stingy as a rule or are they some of the most generous and charity giving people known to man? what do we hold?) at the collections as being pushed into a corner. Church policy often dictates how much a person is willing to part with. Scandal, abuse, loss of trust and security in familiarity. This is what people in the pew talk about when they give. Economics play a key role as well. When spiritual needs are ripped away, dragged down, or outright ignored it takes it toll somewhere. And the collection plate is it. It is the easiest to target and the least confrontational. The only difference is they will not have a “statistic” or “poll” to see how they come out on the losing end. It will be invisible but there. I am not saying it is right, but it is what it is. People already feel they give more and receive less in every walk of life, albeit work, store services, etc. The point being how many will see this the wrong way and take it out on the collection plate? So the Church will lose another way what they gain from ticket prices. It reduces the whole thing to a concert venue, perhaps scalpers along the way eventually. It takes away from the Mass in some way. There will be people who won’t go or simply can’t because of this. How can that be for the good of the people? It is reducing the event and has already started to take its’ toll on people’s opinions. As an American who was happy to see the Pope in person when he visited New York I can honestly say that I would not have minded at all if the Pope thought it better to stay in Rome, save the money (which is understandable) and adopt a more secluded role as far as visibility goes. It would be far better if the focus was on re-building what has been lost, which he clearly speaks about, through writing, issuing statements, decrees, as the Papacy has done for hundreds of years and use mass media to “appear” before the masses of people. Sure there is nothing like a papal visit but do we really need it when we hear that people are still paying for John Paul II’s 1982 trip? I would be humbled enough to say no. The small but incremental costs to both pocket and mind to the average Catholic will probably outweigh whatever converts or fond memories are gained. Not to mention the financial strain and burden that offering a Mass in a foreign country obviously has on the Vatican now as evidenced by the absolute necessity to charge for Mass. With all the mess that has swirled around this trip, from venue changes, security issues, arrest threats, and now ticket sales, is it worth it? I for one do not want any harm to come to the Holy Father or even stress for him, and would find comfort in knowing today’s world has changed and the spiritual capital is Rome and that is where he will do his pastoral work from. Many other religious leaders do not go outside their ancestoral borders and they have followers worldwide. I don’t need the Holy Father in my backyard to believe in my Faith and to love the Papacy.

  40. Supertradmum says:

    Dear Jack,
    The dioceses in England did not want people attending the events by themselves, but as groups. The same thing happened in Iowa, when John Paul II visited what is now Living History Farm. Parishes organized buses, and people paid for the pilgrimage. My mother went and said it was a fantastic experience going with her fellow parishioners, saying the rosary on the bus,praying for the Pope’s safety, etc. Some people did go individually, but had to walk great distances owing to the lack of parking, etc, in the Heartland. People complained at the lack of “amnesties”, but is that not part of a pilgrimage, to be uncomfortable and, perhaps, to pay for necessities? To go as a group to Birmingham is no different than English Catholics going to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes, or Lough Derg, for example, as pilgrimage groups. And, if the Pope were there at any of those places, crowd control, security, and things already mentioned, would be a necessity. Ergo, the need for pounds sterling.

  41. Supertradmum says:

    sorry “amenities”–although reading some of the strong feelings, amnesties might be a better word here…

  42. Supertradmum says:


    It is extremely important for British Catholics, who are still persecuted for the Faith, to have a Papal visit. Such a thing engenders love for the Universal Church and inspires young people to stand up for their Faith. How can one show one’s love and support for our dear Pope if we do not try to see him, and especially in our homeland? How wonderful and what an honour that the Vicar of Christ is coming to the UK. We should not fall into cynicism or lose our faith because of the scandals. The Church has always had trials, and will until the end of time. Does not love conquer such negativity? And, is not our dear Pope both a reality,and a symbol of God’s Love for His Church? In my immediate family, three people were abused by priests, and yet, they love the Church still and those that could, made efforts to see the Pope when he came to the US. Such is love…

  43. Dave N. says:

    One of the most common ways secular Brits complain about the church is by invoking the old saying: “museums are free; churches cost”–which is a type of shorthand employed when making the point that the church (people don’t think too closely about which church) is in love with accumulating money and property. Charging for such a public event simply provides more ammunition for the secularists.

    I think the Papal “stadium Mass” has turned worship of God into a marketed spectacle; I wonder who will get the luxury boxes?

  44. Lori Pieper says:


    I remember that Mass at Living History Farms so very well — my whole family was there: Mom, Dad and 9 children (my brother and I, the oldest two, were in college). We didn’t bother with the bus, since with all of us, there wouldn’t have been room for anyone else in the parish! We drove the 50 miles from Marshalltown to Des Moines in our station wagon.

    We did walk a long way to the field, and I seem to remember there were a lot of cars as well as a lot of buses. Of course I fell and sprained my ankle almost as soon as we got in the field, so we didn’t go very far in; we knew I would have difficulty walking out again. So I sat and nursed my ankle for some 4-5 hours, during all the looong wait and the two hour papal Mass; but I don’t recall really feeling any pain, much less hunger or thirst or even needing to use the bathroom – I wouldn’t have been able to walk to the Porta-Potties anyway. (I wonder if the medieval pilgrims to Compestela had to deal with sprained ankles a lot).

    What did it matter? We were celebrating Mass with the Pope, who was coming to our out-of-the-way and almost forgotten state, dropping by helicopter practically into our back yard. I spoke with my Mom about that day just recently, and she said “That was the greatest day of my life!” She had never seen any Pope “live” before.

    I sincerely wish this kind of joy for English Catholics, and am sorry that the trip has become so contentious in so many ways.

  45. S. Murphy says:

    Can we help? Is there any way American Catholics could make donations to defray the cost so maybe English Catholics could get in?

  46. Supertradmum says:

    Dear All and especially, S. Murphy,

    Here is the link in order to donate to the Papal Visit in England.

    I am sure if us Yankees could come up with the money, the paid tickets required for Masses would disappear.

    Lori Pieper,

    What a wonderful memory. I was in grad school at Notre Dame and did not get to go. However, in 1985 and in 1986, I was able to attend several Papal Masses in Rome. What a fantastic experience and how fortunate we have been!

  47. Lori Pieper says:


    Wonderful memories indeed!

    I would so love to donate to help English Catholics with this, but I’m very badly off financially right now. Probably $5 would be the most I could muster; but I hope a lot of people in the U.S. do it. Maybe I could put the link up on my blog.

  48. Lori Pieper says:

    Oh by the way, I too was in Rome during the ’85 Synod of Bishops and attended a papal Mass there – was that when you were there?

  49. Supertradmum says:

    I was there for a few week right before Christmas, ’85 until shortly after Epiphany, ’86.

  50. Supertradmum says:

    I was there for a few weeks right before Christmas, ’85 until shortly after Epiphany, ’86. I stayed at the Venerabile Collegio Inglese. I love Rome! I was at the Mass when Archbishop Donald Wuerl and others were consecrated, (among other Masses). I was also at the Villa Palazzola.

  51. Lori Pieper says:

    Hmm, well I left Rome Dec 9th or 10th of 1985 to go to Assisi (I could tell you all sorts of stories about that!), and came back to Rome only to catch a train for Paris, so we could just barely have been there at the same time. That was some wonderful semester of study abroad!

    An episcopal consecration in Rome (at the Vatican?0 would really be something to see! So I really envy you there.

  52. Henry Edwards says:

    Sometimes, “Follow the money!” is actually not the way to sort it out.

    The organizer of the papal visit to Britain is the same former general secretary of the BC of England and Wales, Msgr. Andrew Summersgill, who planned their infamous brewery celebration of efforts to frustrate Summorum Pontificum there.

    The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales faced embarrassment today following revelations that failed attempts to organise a staff celebration in the world-famous Monks brewery in Ipswich will leave churchgoers facing a bill for thousands of pounds.

    Former Eccleston Square general secretary Mgr Andrew Summersgill and a team of event planners booked the brewery – which has been producing fine-quality ales for over 200 years – for a party to celebrate the success of their efforts to frustrate the implementation of Summorum Pontificum.

    It is understood that Eccleston Square employees would have been allowed unlimited access to casks of Friar’s Ale and (should the good news about Mgr Summersgill’s mitre come through in time) Bishop’s Tipple.

  53. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Supertradmum is right.

    Simony happens when the cleric charges for a sacrament or blessing, and will not confer it unless he is paid. Simony also happens when a person who should not receive a sacrament or blessing says, “I know other clerics will not give me this sacrament, so that is why I am paying you to veto their decision and give me this sacrament.” Such would be the case of paying a bishop to be ordained priest or consecrated bishop.

    If every spiritual good should be free, why do we pay tuition for a Catholic education? It is because the school structures are not maintained for free, and teachers do not live on pure air.

    Remember that every right, in this case the right to the sacraments, contains a corresponding responsibility. The right to attend Mass, hear the Word of God, receive the Blessed Sacrament, and other sacraments, involves a corresponding moral obligation to pay for the support and sustenance of the Church and her ministers. Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but to God what is God’s. God demanded tithes in Scripture, from the first fruits of our labor, in support of sacred worship and the costs of sacrifice.

    If an event is to be held, someone must pay for the event. If people wish the Pope to visit and they wish him to offer Mass publicly, they must pay the men and women who provide all the material and physical labor and structures which are needed.

  54. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Supertradmum is right Part II.

    Even before this economy tanked, I did not expect security to work long hours for the Pope and donate that labor. They have children to feed and bills to pay. I do not expect people to put out seating and rails, some of which will be damaged, for free since the renting of these items is how they keep a business open and pay their employees. I do not expect the toilet or “water closet” renters to bring those very essential items to the Mass and later cart them off for free.

    I don’t imagine the utilities are donating their services for free. And on and on. Those who are attending papal Masses have a moral and Christian obligation to see to it that all those who give structural and logistic support to these events is recompensed.

    Everyone loves to show up to an event for free, sit his honker for free on someone’s chair and mooch off of everyone else in the name of their “right to spiritual service.” You do not have a right to a spiritual event that is costing someone else millions and millions of dollars.

    If you insists on your right to Holy Communion that day, *fine*, go to daily Mass and some simple chapel where huge amounts were not paid out for the Mass to take place. As a pastor in the United States, I can say without hesitation that the spiritual goods of the Church are borne to us on the backs of working class people who need every bit of recompense they get, *for the laborer is worth his wages* (Someone important said that).

    If you want the “blow out event” of a papal Mass, in grandeur and glory, put your money where your mouth is. Pay the ticket and ask yourself if there are frivolous and silly things for which you have in the past frittered away your money. If you do not berate yourself for having spent on less worthy events, do not begrudge the fee which is given to you for an event which is far more worthy.

  55. Fr_Sotelo says:

    And speaking of putting my money where my mouth is, and not mooching off for free on the back of someone else’s labor, I have enjoyed this blog far too much and it has been far too long since I hit the PayPal button. So, I PayPal here I come. [And I thank you. I already said Mass this morning pro benefactoribus, but yours will be the first name on the list I remember at the Memento of the living the next time I say Mass for the intention of all those who have donated or sent things.]

  56. Jack Hughes says:

    Fr Sotelo

    I don’t object to paying for transport or for amenaties just as I would not object to pay towards the cost of redecorating a Church, contributing towards getting a decent set of vestmants for a priest or a new Monstrance for perpetual adoration; what I object to is the fact that the conduct of the Bishops in England and Wales by an large make the USCCB and the CCHD scandal look like a minor accounting error. That is why beyond the initial collection I haven’t contributed one penny towards the cost of the visit.

  57. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Henry Edwards, the Damian T. column about the party in the brewery was a savage joke, illustrating the coarse British expression, “He couldn’t organise a [drunken party] in a brewery.”

    Personally, I enjoyed the phrase “particularly in Scotland.” Hee hee hee hee!

    Incidentally, only an average of 85,000 Scots go to Sunday Mass. That’s out of the around one million Catholic Scots. There are 5 million Scots in Scotland, mostly Presbyterian, so faithful Catholics in Scotland are also a small minority.

  58. Fr_Sotelo says:


    This is not a matter of objecting or not objecting, of liking or disliking. We are speaking of the old-fashioned concept of Catholic justice: give to each what is due.

    I will visit my sister next week and she will ask that I take her to a movie. Can I show up to the cinema and say, “I don’t mind paying for improvement x,y,z, which makes the cinema look beautiful, but I object to the conduct of the owners and don’t feel I should now pay to sit down and watch a movie.

    The owners could say, “perhaps we can just close the cinema and you can entertain your sister by putting on a cheap puppet show for her at home?” Likewise, I may not like the conduct of the bishops, yet those they have employed to set up for these papal Masses must be remunerated for their services.

    Your offering is to support workers and their services; it is not a sign that you wish to hug and kiss the English bishops for their not so stellar job at shepherding.

  59. Jim says:

    Dear S Spouse

    Over 215000 Mass goers I think

    An dthe data only include Sunday, not Saturday vigils

    This Scotland on Sunday article has more Catholics going to Sunday services than Church of Scotlanders

  60. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you, Father Sotelo. and it is nice to hear a priest who understands that the laborer must get his just due. You are a true son of the First High Priest, Jesus Christ, whom you quote.

  61. Prof. Basto says:

    Everyone loves to show up to an event for free, sit his honker for free on someone’s chair and mooch off of everyone else in the name of their “right to spiritual service.” You do not have a right to a spiritual event that is costing someone else millions and millions of dollars.

    If you want the “blow out event” of a papal Mass, in grandeur and glory, put your money where your mouth is. Pay the ticket and ask yourself if there are frivolous and silly things for which you have in the past frittered away your money. If you do not berate yourself for having spent on less worthy events, do not begrudge the fee which is given to you for an event which is far more worthy.

    Dear Fr. Sotelo,

    I’m sorry, but I must say I completely disagree with your analisys. All Papal Masses are grand events. All have a huge cost, and that cost will always increase (for security reasons, etc).

    Thus, if the “logic of the world” were applied to the Church, all Papal Masses would be charged for, and only those who bought tickets would be able to attend.

    This would limit the ability to see the pope only to those who can pay. Imagine applying that to a developing (a.k.a. third world) country. Only those who are well off would attend.

    People go to Rome to see the Pope to be nourished by his presence, blessing and teaching moments, and the Pope goes to the countries all arround the world to spread the Gospel to all people. Not to perform a “show” for the benefit of those who can pay.

    Sue Papal Masses outside the Vatican involve greater costs. If the Church operated under the logic of this world, under the logic of the market economy, it would be ok to charge for attendance. After all, someone is footing the bill and the institution footing the bill deserves compensation.

    But in the Church, compensation comes in the form of VOLUNTARY DONATION, such as the collection plate(and such as the pay pal button in this blog, by the way). There is a precept of the Church that directs us to support Her financially. We do it paying the tithe, by donating to the parish, to the diocese and to Peter’s pence within our capacity.

    But the Church does not charge for the Sacraments or for Mass, and if a high ranking prelate is celebrating Mass and you want to attend, you always can. Even for weddings, funerals and baptisms, where it is customary to give a contribution, if you don’t give, Father will perform the Sacred Action anyway, because otherwise it would be Simony.

    So, it would be ok to ask people who are willing to attend the Papal Mass if they are willing to pay a quota of a certain number of pounds to help foot the bill. It is ok to say, we expect that X people will come, so, to help pay for this event, we would ask people in their kindness to please donate Y or more. Doing that, asking for a donation and stating the figure is the most one can do. I guess most would gladly contribute. They go to the Papal Mass because they are the Church’s faithful, and, even if they are sometimes remiss and forget to contribute, they will do so if asked. But if someone can’t, that person should not be barred from the Mass, even Papal Mass, for that reason.

    So, there are ways in which the Conference can ask for help in footing this bill, but one can never make the paying of a price a conditio sine qua non for the attendance to a Sacred Action.

    Of course you can charge for buses and other amenities, but you cannot say: if you don’t pay you won’t be able to attend this Papal Mass. In my view, once you make attendance to the Sacred Action conditional upon the paying of a price, that is already formal simony.

    The Lord loved the poor, was close to them, and expelled the sellers from the Temple of God. The Church is the Lord’s Church. It does not follow the logic of this world, the logic of the market, but the logic of Christ who humbled himself. That is why the Church relies on donations. Not on the selling of tickets.

  62. Supertradmum says:

    Prof. Basto,

    The real poor, my little family included, would not be able to afford transportation costs, much less a Mass ticket. If one chooses to go on a pilgrimage, one must pay for whatever expenses are needed, otherwise, one does not go. Appealing to the sensibilities of the poor is a red herring. The real poor go nowhere, but cope with daily necessities. Pilgrimages are like “spiritual vacations”.

    And, one must remember how poor the entire Catholic Church is in the UK as an institution. Also, the Conference of the Bishops of England and Wales and the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland have much, much, much less power, money, and resources than the USCCB. There is no comparison.

    I must also add that the Catholics in the pew do not tithe as Americans have up to this point, although I know tithing is down since the breaking of the scandals news. Catholics in America of a certain age usually have tithed the full 10%, while the Brits simply do not have that cultural habit. In addition, donations simply would not happen, except for the few very rich Catholic families, who do give, quietly and graciously.

    I think Father Sotelo’s view is more realistic than yours in this case.

  63. Henry Edwards says:

    Seraphic Spouse, thanks for the correction. I learned long ago, but evidently forgot temporarily, to steer clear of British humor. In any event, I suspect Mr. Thompson made his point with his fellow Brits, whatever it was.

  64. JPG says:

    When in England in 2006, I was struck by the fact that the Anglican Churches charged for tours. It was 9 lbs per person to tour St Paul’s. They did not charge during the service. We did not attend any service nor did we tour at 18.00 $ . We did tour the Abbey. We then took the chunnel to Paris. Notre Dame WAS FREE except the Museum where the relics were displayed ( 3 euro). At the time I was struck that this was a religious difference between Catholic and Protestant. Now I wonder if it is cultural.

  65. shane says:

    Notre Dame is free to enter because it is the property of the French state – as are all French churches and cathedrals built before the 1905 Law of Seperation.

    Anglican cathedrals in England usually charge because they cost a fortune to maintain, and unlike most Europe countries, the UK does not usually give public funds to churches for their upkeep.

  66. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Prof. Basto:

    I understand that the idea of paying for a ticket to a papal Mass is shocking. In previous trips, the money has been there, somehow, or perhaps the papal Masses on these trips were not so costly. But we are no longer in the past, and previous has given way to the economic reality of the here and now. Supertradmum has emphatically stated that the Catholic Church in England does not have the money to foot this bill. I believe her.

    And to be clear, let us stop comparing the papal Masses to the other sacraments we receive from the Church. There is no comparison on the level of money it takes, and thus the typical parish priest is able to take care of the poor with spiritual services because when he baptizes, offers Masses, confesses, etc. he and the parish are not going to incur a multi-million dollar debt. The papal Masses are sui generis, and should be spoken of in that sense, and therefore requiring a unique response to the financial debts incurred.

    I do not believe that attending a papal Mass is necessary for the salvation of souls, for the preaching of the Gospel, or for the growth and exaltation of the Catholic Faith. Until Paul VI, the Church experienced wonderful moments of growth, e.g. during the reign of Blessed Pius XI or Venerable Pius XII, without benefit of international trips by the Pope and stadium filled papal Masses.

    Perhaps it is the very logic of the world which feeds into the idea of these large spectacles and the spending of money which we do not have. If you wish to speak of the logic of Christ, let us speak of Luke 14:28: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? (RSV)”

    You have said “the Church relies on donations.” Indeed. They are not sufficient. So, who is going to pay? Our Lord says if you wish to do something, sit down and count the cost. The options are not many: either ask people to pay for tickets or cancel the event.

    In other words, let us renounce the idea of costly Church events we cannot afford. Let us live within our means. Do we not tell the faithful that frugality and simplicity are virtues? Again, on the issue of simony, you and I do not have a right to attend papal Masses in person. We can easily turn on the TV and participate in that way, as most of the world’s Catholics do.

    If you wish to be in a certain, physical locale, in a chair, within the grounds which were secluded for this, you should be expected and should expect yourself to remunerate those who have organized this. That is why this is not simony. The money is not going to the Holy Father, who is offering the Mass out of love for souls and God’s glory. The money is going to pay bills for the setting up of this event.

    It is interesting that you are willing to get on a bus, on the way to the papal Mass, and pay the bus driver. Yet, once you are at the Mass, you shirk from the request to pay for a seat. Does not the person who offered the services of setting up for Mass also deserve payment, like the bus driver? If the donations obviously do not recompense those who physically set up for the Mass, and there is not money to pay them, how can the faithful in good conscience walk in, take their seats, participate in Mass, knowing that our obligations of justice have not been satisfied?

    Everyone says, “pass the basket.” Well, that has not worked. It is not working. Our debtors are still there with hands outstretched. I say, pay them, or do not go to the papal Mass. Or try this. When you get on the bus, on the way to the papal Mass, tell the bus driver that because he is taking you to a papal Mass, he also is donating his services. That is treating everyone equally. Of course, I doubt you would get very far on that bus.

  67. Fr_Sotelo says:

    In the crime of simony, it is necessary that someone extort money for a spiritual service which the Church has an obligation to render for free if the supplicant cannot give an offering. Telling a couple, “if you don’t pay the $1,000 fee for marriage, you are not getting married in this parish” would be simony. Or it is attempting to secure a spiritual service or power with money. Simon, in the Acts of the Apostles, wanted to have the apostolic power of granting miracles, and was willing to pay for this spiritual power, which only the Holy Ghost can confer.

    A bishop in his diocese is expected to offer Mass for his subjects and make it possible for his subjects to receive Holy Communion. A bishop cannot say, “unless I am paid this amount, I will not offer Mass. Or, unless you pay this amount, I will not allow you in the cathedral.”

    Is this what the Holy Father is doing? No. He is, first, outside of his diocese of Rome, and he has no obligation to offer public Masses outside of his diocese. The faithful in England will see him and through TV will be present at his Mass, which is sufficient to receive doctrine and instruction from him as the Supreme Pastor of the Church.

    Secondly, the money which is given for his Mass is not to benefit him personally. He is not going to England to line his pockets. He is not the recipient of “filthy lucre” like Fr. Tetzel selling indulgences.

    Nor is the Holy Father paying out money to acquire some special spiritual influence which he should not have normally, as Simon did in the Bible. The bishops are saying, “this is an event which is not paid for. Please do not say that the money will come, or can come some other way, because we are honestly at a point where various means of soliciting help have already been tried. This is what is needed from everyone to cover the needs of this event.”

    To refer to an event as simoniacal is easy. But when you break down that definition for what it really means, the crime cannot be imputed to the Holy Father or the English bishops. However, the term does provoke ugly images of greed and avarice, and as such may be useful for those who wish to hide behind it in order not to responsibly give what they are able to give.

  68. Dave N. says:

    Perhaps it is the very logic of the world which feeds into the idea of these large spectacles and the spending of money which we do not have.

    I think Fr. Sotelo is correct. So maybe it’s time to rethink these trips then if they are so expensive and the church can’t seem to afford them. Plus the opportunity for liturgical abuses and scandal at these Masses is huge.

  69. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Re Scotland Scottish stats: sorry for that egregious typo. The Catholic bishops of Scotland calculate over 185,000 weekly Mass-goers. Here are their own stats:

    As far as I know, I will not be going to the papal Mass in Glasgow, as much as I love the Holy Father. I will be one of the people lining a street in Edinburgh, risking getting hit by eggs or worse. Who will be most annoying, I wonder: the Orangemen, the gay activists, or the Muslim extremists? Hmm.

    The whole run-up to this visit has been deeply depressing. The UK secular media sneers endlessly at the pope, and the UK Catholic media moans and groans endlessly about the plans. This is such lightyears away from the run-up to the World Youth Day in Toronto, that I may go into culture shock.

  70. Mitchell NY says:

    I also just read a relevant paragraph in Inter Oecumenici from 1964 that says “the equality of the faithful must be clearly apparent and any suggestion of moneymaking is to be clearly avoided..Even the suggestion…This seems to fly in the face of that if the document is at all relevant..

  71. S. Murphy says:

    Supertradmom – thanks for the link.

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