As concern mounts over the cost of the Pope’s visit to Britain in September, it’s emerged that the faithful will have to cough up £25 (US$39) to see him.
According to a report in the Independent, this is the first time pilgrims will be charged to see events during a papal visit.
We recently reported that the papal visit was in disarray, amid horror stories of mounting costs to the UK taxpayer, plus the cost of security, which is to be met from individual police authorities’ budgets.
The National Secular Society wrote to Foreign Secretary William Hague, urging him “not to pump any more taxpayers’ money into funding the Pope’s visit to Britain in September.”
And a recent article in the Spectator reminded readers that: “The Papal visit also coincides with much public indignation at the Church’s role in protecting paedophile priests. The authors Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens would like to see the Pope arrested for his role in covering up the abuse.”
The Independent says that charges “will be levied for tickets to two events: a prayer vigil in London’s Hyde Park on 18 September and the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Birmingham the following day.”
The report adds: “Church officials said the charges are for transportation to the London and Birmingham events but that pilgrims who want to attend must join a parish group and cannot travel independently. There are 70,000 tickets for the beatification and 130,000 for the Hyde Park vigil.”
Health and safety
The paper says the Vatican has been alarmed by the mounting costs, “with the most recent estimates suggesting it will have to find £14m [US$21.9m] while taxpayers are facing a £20m [US$31.27m] bill.
“Officials have blamed health-and-safety rules for increasing the costs and said there are considerably more regulations than in 1982 when Pope John Paul II visited.”
A recent petition against the Pope’s visit was removed from the Downing Street website before it was due to expire. And a move by the two atheist authors Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitches to have the Pope arrested for crimes against humanity looks like being thwarted as the British government moves to change the law to prevent such a move.