Pope Benedict to celebrate Mass in Birmingham, not Coventry

Cofton Park

Cofton Park

The Vatican has announced that plans for Pope Benedict to celebrate Mass at Coventry Airport have been cancelled. Instead, the Church has asked Birmingham City Council to prepare Cofton Park, near Longbridge, for the Beatification Mass of Cardinal John Henry Newman, who is buried nearby.

Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass at Coventry Airport during his visit in 1982. The airfield can hold crowds of up to 150,000, while Cofton Park, in the south of Birmingham, holds just 80,000.

But a Catholic Media Office spokesman said: "Both the Vatican and local churches believe the historical resonance of Cofton Park will prove to be a fitting setting for the beatification."

In a statement, Birmingham City Council said: "As a city we will of course afford the Government all possible support to make the papal visit a success."

Full details of the Pope's itinerary will be published next month.