Venue for Pope's open-air mass is switched to park

THE location of a beatification ceremony to be conducted by the Pope on his UK visit later this year has been changed, the Catholic Church confirmed.

Benedict XVI was scheduled to hold the open air mass at Coventry Airport, but the service will instead take place at Cofton Park in Birmingham, a spokesman said.

The new venue was chosen because of its "historical resonance" and close association with Cardinal John Henry Newman, the revered 19th century clergyman and Catholic convert who will be beatified on the final day of the papal visit, September 19.

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Alexander des Forges, a spokesman for the Catholic Church, said: "With Cofton Park you have a very close association with Cardinal Newman because it is immediately adjacent to Oratory House in Rednal, where Cardinal Newman found a place of retreat for quiet reflection.

"And most particularly, he is buried in Rednal Cemetery.

"Choosing Cofton Park as a venue for the beatification will also enable the Pope to pay a private pilgrimage to the rooms of Cardinal Newman at Birmingham Oratory.

"It was very much about tying into the life and death of Cardinal Newman, and the historical resonance of Cofton Park."