Scottish Catholics Plan to Not Attend Mass with Pope Benedict XVI

This article from New Statesman talks about the attendance expectations for Pope Benedict XVI when he visits Scotland. The main issue has become that people do not want to/have the money to pay to see a Mass with the Pope. People are not supposed to be paying for these tickets that parishes have been allotted, but each parish is supposed to make a small donation for every parishioner that plans to attend. The parishes have passed this fee along to the parishioners in many cases, so it is indeed like they are paying to attend the service. Hopefully this all gets settled out and they get a nice attendance come September when this Mass is set to occur.

“Controversy has emerged over the Pope’s planned open-air mass at Bellahouston Park near Glasgow, with many parishes returning more than half of their allocated tickets for the event.

The organisers now reportedly fear that attendance will fall short of the 100,000 they expected to come to the mass, which will cost £1.5m to stage. Each of Scotland’s 450 Catholic parishes received a pro-rata ticket allocation based on the size of their regular congregation, but the Herald reports that in some cases, only one-sixth of parishioners are planning to take up their places at the event.

In 1982, Pope John Paul II celebrated mass at the same site on a sunny afternoon, with 300,000 people in attendance. The choice of this site has been interpreted as an attempt to recreate the success and popularity of that service for a pope that has been under siege in recent months.

The open-air mass requires attendees to be in their places hours before the two-hour service is due to begin, and it is thought that fears about the weather and long travel times are putting people off. Distant parishes are also planning to watch the service via video link, rather than travel to the other side of the country to attend in person.

The service, which will take place on 19 September as part of the Pope’s forthcoming visit to Britain, has also re-opened the debate over the cost of the Pope’s trip to Britain. While insisting that pilgrims will not have to pay to attend the Bellahouston mass, the Catholic church has asked each parish to make a donation of £20 per attendee — an obligation which many parishes have passed on to their parishioners.” – “Pope Snubbed by Scottish Catholics”, New Statesman