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POPE HIT BY MASS APATHY; THY WHEELS BE DONE.

Byline: RYAN PARRY

THE three mass vigils to mark the Pope's visit to Britain this week have not sold out.

Thousands of Catholics are shunning the events as they feel the Pope failed to act properly over child abuse scandals which have rocked the church. And it emerged yesterday the Catholic Church will bus hundreds of kids to the events to boost attendances.

Organisers of tomorrow's open-air mass in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow have reduced the capacity to 80,000 as ticket sales have been poor.

Dioceses have also reported thousands of unfilled places for a vigil in Hyde Park, London, on Saturday and the service to beatify Cardinal Newman in Birmingham on Sunday.

And a new poll suggests most British people do not support the Pope's trip.

Only 14 percent of those polled by the Populus institute said that they were in favour of Pope Benedict XVI's state visit.

More than two-thirds said they were unhappy about the trip because of the cost to taxpayers, or the views of the Roman Catholic Church.

Yesterday Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols admitted the church had handled child abuse cases badly.

He said: "The church has made a mess of its response to incidents of child abuse, and there is nothing that can be said that excuses the crimes committed by members of the clergy against children."

Archbishop Nichols said 1,000 coaches with pilgrims would attend the beatification ceremony for Cardinal John Henry Newman to be carried out by the Pope in Cofton Park, Birmingham.

He said around 55,000 were expected people to attend - 10,000 fewer than originally thought . The Pontiff's visit will be met by protests from secular campaigners and child abuse survivors.

Peter Tatchell, of the Protest the Pope campaign, said: "We are calling on the British Government to disassociate itself from the Pope's opposition to women's rights, contraception, gay equality, fertility treatment, embryonic stem cell research and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.

"On these and many other issues, Benedict is out of step with the majority of British people, including many Catholics."

The four-day pounds 12million official visit, which begins tomorrow, is the first since 1982 and will go to Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Birmingham. It will also include a meeting on Saturday with Mr Cameron who described it as "a great honour for our country".

Each pounds 75,000 vehicle has bulletproof glass windows and roof, armoured side panels and reinforced chassis to provide security

The Pope enters the car by a rear door and sits in a chair which is raised by a hydraulic lift up into the "glass room". There is also space for two aides to sit in the area in front of him

The Popemobile runs on green fuel and each vehicle has around 5,000km on the clock, not bad for an eight-year-old car

In theory, the Popemobile has a top speed of 160mph, but in Britain it will do a more sedate 6mph as the Pope waves to the crowds

The car will be driven by a specially trained British police officer with a Vatican security agent sat in the passenger seat

The registration plate of the Popemobile reads SCV 1. SCV abbreviates both Stato della Citt del Vaticano and Status Civitatis Vaticanae, the Italian and Latin names for the Vatican City state

The Popemobile is a modified Mercedes-Benz M-Class sport utility vehicle with a special glass-enclosed cabin built into the back to give a clear 360-degree view of the pontiff

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 15, 2010
Words:593
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