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According to a report in The Scotsman ,

Catholics planning to attend open-air Mass arranged for the Pope’s visit to the UK will face a two-tier system, depending on which side of the Border they are.

Worshippers in Scotland will not have to pay to attend the Papal Mass to be held in Glasgow during the Pontiff’s visit . . . while those attending the events in England and Wales will be charged up to £25 [about $38 at today’s exchange rate].

A spokesman for the Catholic Media Office says that “Scottish pilgrims travelling to the Papal Mass at Bellahouston Park [in Glasgow] will not be expected to pay a charge to attend. Instead, parishes will be asked to contribute to the overall cost of the event, including transport costs.” Individual Catholics in England and Wales, however, will have to pay “£25 to attend the highlight of the Pope’s visit—the Mass . . . for the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Crofton Park, Birmingham.” As the Scotsman article notes, there is even “a £10 charge for the prayer vigil in Hyde Park, in London.”

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in England has said that members of the faithful who attend the Mass at Birmingham will receive “a pilgrim pass, . . . a journey CD, . . . a travelcard, the Magnificat (prayer book)” and other things. “The whole idea,” the spokesman says, “is that they contribute to the cost of travel.”

The news that not only English and Welsh parishioners but also their priests, including many who will be concelebrating the papal Mass, will be charged a fee to attend the Birmingham Mass has, as the article in The Scotsman points out, “led to concerns that it will penalise the less well-off.”

It’s an interesting dichotomy, and one that rather puts the lie to the old canard that it’s the Scots who are stingy.

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