Faithful to pay to attend pope events in Britain: reports
Worshippers will have to pay between 10 and 25 pounds (16 and 40 dollars) to attend Pope Benedict XVI's public appearances during his September visit to Britain, Italian media reported Wednesday.
The reports come amid controversy in mainly Anglican Britain over the cost of the trip, which officials have estimated at up to 12 million pounds (14 million euros, 18 million dollars).
"It's a simple contribution to general expenses," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told Italian daily Corriere della Sera, adding that "those that cannot afford it will be exempt."
Contacted by AFP, the Vatican declined to comment on the report.
The most expensive event, at 25 pounds (40 dollars) a head, will be mass in Birmingham on September 19 which is expected to attract 70,000 people, news agency ANSA reported.
During the ceremony the pope will beatify theologian John Henry Newman, a Protestant who converted to Catholicism and died in 1890, ANSA said.
The September 16 mass in Glasgow, Scotland will cost 20 pounds and includes a performance by Susan Boyle, the singing sensation who won international fame after performing on the television show "Britain's Got Talent".
The cheapest event will be a vigil in Hyde Park in London on September 17, with tickets selling at 10 pounds.
Benedict XVI will be only the second pope to visit Britain since King Henry VIII split with Rome in 1534, leading to the formation of the Anglican church.
Pope John Paul II visited Britain, where over four million of some 61 million inhabitants are Catholic, in 1982.
© 2010 AFP