BY STAFF REPORTER
DIOCESES across England and Wales have returned thousands of unused tickets for the papal Mass at Cofton Park to Birmingham archdiocese.
Approximately seven per cent of the total of “pilgrim passes”, or 5,000 tickets for the beatification Mass for Cardinal John Henry Newman, were returned to the Archdiocese of Birmingham for redistribution last week.
The returned tickets will soak up the overflow from oversubscribed dioceses sucha as Birmingham and Westminster, where the interest for tick ets was high. Meanwhile, parishes in the Archdiocese of Birmingham have been able to re-open their lists for parishioners eager to go to the Mass at Cofton Park.
Organisers have cited a number of different reasons for the seeming lack of interest in tickets to papal events in some dioceses, including the absence of families in parishes because of school holidays and elderly parishes. Geography was also an issue, they said, giving the example that more likely for people in the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle to go to the papal Mass in Scotland than to events in Birmingham or London. Thousands of places for the vigil in Hyde Park will also be redistributed.
A spokesman for the Bishops of England and Wales said: “If it were a question of just trying to get 80,000 people to take part in the vigil at Hyde Park we’d be able to fill it tomorrow, but we wanted to distribute the tickets in as fair a way as possible so that everywhere would have a chance to go.
“In this second wave of distributing tickets which we were always anticipating, the tickets go to the areas where there was a high demand for them.”