More than 30,000 people have registered for the Pastoral Congress, one of the main elements of the Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families (WMoF) being held in Dublin in August just before the visit of Pope Francis.
It is the highest number of advance bookings ever for the three-day event established by Pope John Paul II in 1994 and held every three years in a different city.
Those who registered and paid for at least one day of the three-day congress at the RDS from Wednesday, August 22, to Friday, August 25, will be entitled to tickets for the Papal Mass at the Phoenix Park the next Sunday.
Everyone else will have to wait until June 25 to register for tickets for the Pope’s visit to the Marian shrine at Knock or the open-air Mass in Phoenix Park.
“People will be able to get a ticket from the 25th of June and everything will be online”, said Brenda Drumm, media and communications manager for WMoF2018.
“We will be opening registration for the tickets for Knock which will have a capacity of 45,000 and we will also be opening registration for the closing Mass which will have a maximum upper capacity of 600,000 and that will include the staff, the choirs, and everyone who will need to be on site that day.”
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland radio programme, she said those who registered and paid for a ticket for the Festival of Families will be guaranteed a ticket for the Phoenix Park.
“We now have 30,000 registrations for the RDS Pastoral Congress, the highest of any World Meeting of Families to date,” said Ms Drumm.
Attendance at the Feast of Families at Croke Park, although a free event, will also be confined to adults who registered for the Pastoral Congress, which means that those wishing to attend will effectively have to pay to see the Pope at that event, with prices ranging from €38 for a single adult ticket to €68 for the three-day event.
The WMoF2018 website states: “At the moment the tickets for the Festival of Families in Croke Park can only be accessed through Congress Registration. Due to a high demand of tickets, we will not be able to do a general release of single-day free tickets for this event.
“Tickets for the Festival of Families have been available to the general public for over a year for anyone booking for one or more days to attend the Pastoral Congress in the RDS.
“As availability has now reduced due to a great demand, tickets are now only available for people booking to attend three days of the Pastoral Congress in the RDS.”
That is despite a longstanding convention that nobody can be charged to see the Pope.
That was made clear last March by Ms Drumm.
“You cannot charge anybody even a nominal fee to attend a Papal event,” she told RTÉ radio’s Drivetime.
“Nobody will pay to see the Pope in Croke Park or in the Phoenix Park.”
Ms Drumm reiterated that position yesterday.
“You cannot charge to see the Pope so anywhere the Pope is, there is no charge to see him,” she said.
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