Pope Francis will not celebrate a public Mass in Glasgow this November.
By Bill Heaney
BBC Scotland is reporting that Pope Francis wanted to conduct an open-air event for the people of Scotland during his visit to the COP26 climate conference — but that his tight schedule will now make this impossible.
However, there could be a major prize in store for Catholics if the Holy Father decides to announce the name of the new Archbishop of Glasgow to succeed the late Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, who died recently during the Covid pandemic.
Either that or the new archbishop is named prior to the climate change conference in order to alow the new man to welcome Pope Francis to the city on what will be one of the Pontiff’s first major appearances since undergoing colon surgery in July.
The conference was originally due to take place in November last year but was postponed due to the Covid pandemic.
The conference will now be held at the Scottish Events Campus from November 1-12.
In July, Pope Francis confirmed he would visit Scotland during the crucial summit.
His commitment to the event came after he said it was time to “change course” on the environment. He has also signed the Vatican up to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Scottish Catholic hierarchy, including the late Archbishop Tartaglia. Speculation is mounting that the archbishop’s success will be named during the visit of Pope Francis.
The Catholic leader will attend a meeting of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland during the trip.
It is at this point that he would have the opportunity to announce the name of Archbishop Tartaglia’s successor.
Although bishops and archbishops are appointed by the Pope, it would be unusual for him to travel personally to an archdiocese to do that.
It had been speculated that Pope Francis would celebrate an open air Mass but, it seems, that the Bishops’ Conference meeting here is all he will have time for in Scotland.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland told the BBC: “Our position on this is that there are no plans whatsoever for a Mass during the visit.
“Our understanding is that the window will be extremely tight and there will be enough time to meet the global leaders, and once the official part is over, to meet the Bishops, and that is it.
“A public Mass is not something the Church is expecting, because of time constraints.”
Pope John Paul II addressed Catholics at the same venue and also Murrayfield stadium in 1982.
Pope Francis had successful surgery in early July at the Gemelli University Hospital in Rome for “symptomatic diverticular stenosis” of the colon.
A week later, he led his weekly prayers from a balcony of the hospital where hundreds had gathered outside, shouting “Viva il Papa!” (long live the Pope).
In July, a spokesperson for the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said: “Having written to the Holy Father to assure him of a warm welcome, should he attend the conference, they are delighted to hear that he does hope to attend and would be glad to meet with them in Glasgow.”
The Pope’s attendance in Glasgow is set to present one of the major security challenges around the conference, alongside visiting heads of state and the Prince of Wales.