Pope Francis will not offer a public Mass during Scotland visit

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Pope Francis boards his flight to Baghdad, Iraq on March 5, 2021. / Vatican Media/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Aug 17, 2021 / 07:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will not offer a public Mass during his short visit to Glasgow in November, according to the Scottish bishops’ conference.

“I can confirm that the Scottish bishops are not planning a public Mass with Pope Francis in November,” Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Scottish bishops, told CNA on Aug. 17.

“The pope will visit as a guest of the UK Government who will be responsible for the arrangement details. We understand he will only be a few hours in Scotland to attend the COP26 gathering and expect he will have only a very short part of this time to meet with the Scottish bishops,” he said.

The pope is expected to attend the “world leaders summit” in the opening days of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place in Glasgow on Nov. 1-12.

Pope Francis’ “very short” trip to Scotland, which could likely be only a day trip, is expected to include meetings with world leaders and Catholic bishops.

The Scottish bishops’ conference made the clarification after media reports circulated in the United Kingdom over the weekend claiming that the pope would preside over an open-air Mass in Glasgow, as his predecessors Benedict XVI and John Paul II did in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow in 2010 and 1982 respectively.

The Vatican has made no official announcements regarding the trip, however the Vatican has announced plans to partner in an event bringing together scientists and leaders of the world’s religions ahead of COP26.

“Faith and Science: Towards COP26” will take place on Oct. 4 at the Vatican. The event is being organized by the British and Italian Embassies to the Holy See.

Following Pope Francis’ colon surgery on July 4, the Scottish bishops' conference issued a statement that the bishops were “delighted to hear that he does hope to attend and would be glad to meet with them in Glasgow.”

COP26 was originally scheduled to take place in November 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 120 heads of state are expected to attend the climate conference this year, according to the BBC.

President Joe Biden, Prince Charles, Greta Thunberg, and climate-envoy John Kerry are among the anticipated attendees.

“Scotland’s Catholic bishops have welcomed the prospect of a meeting with Pope Francis when he attends the COP26 Conference in Glasgow in November,” the spokesperson for the Scottish bishops said.

“While many pastoral, ecumenical and interfaith gatherings would be desirable while he is with us, time constraints, sadly mean such a full programme will not be possible.”

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