ROME, MARCH 30, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Organizers of Pope John Paul II’s May 1 beatification are affirming that there will be plenty of room for all pilgrims who want to attend.
Monsignor Liberio Andreatta of the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi — the Vatican institution whose mission it is to evangelize through pastoral tourism and the ministry of pilgrimage — affirmed this Tuesday at a presentation of the events related to the beatification.
“Rome is ready to receive all the pilgrims who wish to come,” he said. “We have places available and in addition there are all the cities on the outskirts of Rome.”
The priest gave this presentation at the headquarters of the vicariate of Rome, with the presence of civil authorities, assuring skeptics that the event will not give rise to an emergency situation.
He noted that the pilgrim’s ticket will enable a person to travel for free on public transportion during the three days of events. The metropolitan subway will function 22 hours a day (only closing from 2:00 to 4:00 a.m.).
Monsignor Andreatta explained that the capital can be reached by train; lines that usually transport thousands of people a day will not be carrying workers over the three days of the event.
In addition, there will be a “white night” during which churches and venues will hand out food packets.
The event “will be a response that will demonstrate how John Paul II is loved,” said the priest.
He explained that “May 1 was chosen” because “it is dedicated to Divine Mercy, because he wished to sanctify St. Faustina and because he died precisely after vespers of the feast of Divine Mercy.”
Monsignor Andreatta presented three events related to the beatification.
The first is a vigil in the Circus Maximus on April 30, presided over by Cardinal Agostino Valli and organized by the Diocese of Rome. Benedict XVI will participate through a video connection. No tickets are necessary for this event.
The second event is the Mass of beatification in St. Peter’s Square on May 1 at 10:00 a.m. presided over by the Holy Father. Afterwards, the veneration of John Paul II’s remains will begin in St. Peter’s Basilica, and will continue until everyone in the line has been able to pass through.
The third event is a Mass of thanksgiving on May 2, which will be celebrated by the Pontiff’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
The organizers reiterated several times during the press conference that tickets will not be necessary to enter the Circus Maximus or Saint Peter’s Square. Hence, no one can sell tickets for the events.
The Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (ORP) will install a video and audio system and a platform in the Circus Maximus for the celebration of the vigil and will be connected on the Internet with five shrines around the world.
The surrounding areas of Saint Peter’s Square will be equipped with giant screens in locations such as the Castel Sant’Angelo, the Via della Conciliazione, the Piazza Risorgimento and other places; they will be managed by 2,500 volunteers.
The organizers reported that food packets will also be distributed; Nestle has donated a million bottles of water.
There will be an information kit with routes in the Lazio region related to John Paul II’s life and, of course, health care resources.
Monsignor Andreatta stated, “As opposed to other times — considering the present difficult economic situation — the expenses must not weigh on the balance sheets of the public administrations.”
He added: “We know through Caritas that many families have difficulty reaching the end of the month. And although every event brings wealth because the mayoralty ends up receiving taxes, the real event is religious and, hence, we also want to think of those families.”
The priest noted that “the estimated cost is three or four euros per person,” though “the total cost is not known given that it will vary according to the amount of people who come to Rome.”
He added that “at the end of the event the budget will be made public in a transparent manner so that it can be known how the funds were used.”
Father Caesar Atuire, manager of the ORP, stressed that “there is no emergency and there are places for everyone.”
He urged, “Come to Rome; Rome will receive you.”
In regard to the inflated prices of hotels during those days, the priest acknowledged that there is never a lack of people who will take advantage of the event “although we have now signed an ethical decalogue with the Hotel Federation, and things are returning to normality.”
He reiterated that “no one is authorized to sell tickets to enter St. Peter’s Square or the other events.”
Father Atuire said that “no one will remain outside for economic reasons and young people who cannot pay for accommodation will have places where they can sleep.”
Parking will be available in areas around Rome. From there the principal means of transportation will be the train. There will also be special parking for people with disabilities.
“The time suggested to live the event well is three days,” said Father Atuire.
He continued: “There will be a modular organization that will enable all pilgrims who wish to come to do so. The number can change and we are ready.”
At this moment, organizers are estimating that there will be at least 300,000 pilgrims.
After the event, if funds are left over from the donations received, they will be allocated to a soup kitchen for beggars in the area of Termini station.
Noting that there will be other celebrations on May 1 for workers, Father Atuire said that “there is no conflict with the concert of St. John Lateran as the ceremony is in the morning and the concert in the afternoon.” He acknowledged that May 1 is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
On Tuesday there will be another press conference with the contents of the event and some new matters.
In regard to the presence of 300,000 pilgrims, considered few compared with the two million initially estimated, the manager of ORP said that it also depends on how the estimates are made, given that if one counts by individual events there will be some 1.5 million participants.
Organizers noted that accounts have been opened in several banks and donors will not pay commissions. The Ministry of Development is responsible for a commemorative stamp, and the official launch will be on April 29, together with a medal. Both are based on a photograph of John Paul II taken in 1999.