'Say Nope to the Pope' group buys Papal Mass tickets

With the Pope's upcoming visit to Ireland, a protest group is encouraging people to book tickets for the papal events – and not show up
Áine Quinn

WITH the countdown on to the Pope's visit to Ireland in August a protest group is encouraging people to book tickets for the papal events – and not show up.

A Facebook event called 'Say Nope To The Pope' is encouraging people to book large numbers of free tickets, which will not be used, to ensure a low turnout at events.

There have already been more than 200 posts on the page, with many of these people claiming to have ordered these tickets which they will not use.

One man who says he will not be attending the Pope’s visit posted his fictitious attendee details application on the Facebook page showing he booked 400 tickets by block booking for four coach-loads of pilgrims.

Tickets for the papal events were released on Monday and all 45,000 tickets to the shrine in Knock were snapped up in a matter of hours.

However more than 100,000 tickets for Mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin were still available yesterday evening.

One protester Jonathan Keane, who posted on the Facebook page said: “I have booked 800 tickets, using three different email addresses. Some people have 50 or 60 tickets.

“We are just doing this simple peaceful act of protest as resistance to the Catholic Church recruiting in Ireland.”

Organisers of the World Meeting of the Families (WMOF) events however say they are confident the tactic will not affect or reflect the numbers of people who are genuinely interested in attending.

A spokesperson said: "The WMOF2018 is confident that it has robust systems in place to check and validate all bookings received."

The Irish Catholic Bishop Conference declined to comment.

Pope Francis will visit the Republic on August 25 and 26 as part of the World Meeting of Families, which the Catholic Church holds every three years.

It will be the first papal visit to Ireland in almost 40 years, when Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass with over one million people in Phoenix Park in September 1979.

Fr Timothy Bartlett, Secretary General of the WMOF2018, said on Monday that he is hugely encouraged by the response to all of the papal events.

He said, “It is clear that what Pope Francis is saying about family, faith and society, is connecting with a wide range of people. We are working hard to make the WMOF2018 a joyful, welcoming and comfortable event for all those who wish to attend.”

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