By Alfredo Borba (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Alfredo Borba (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

10,000 tickets for Pope Francis’ Philadelphia Mass were snagged up immediately, but concerns about scalpers and fakes are high.

Many Americans regardless of their religion are excited to see the Pope on his upcoming visit to the United States scheduled from September 22 to 27. Many of the Pope’s public engagements are free-to-access for the public although the crowd is limited to a certain distance due to security reasons.

But on the pontiff’s last two days of activities, the organizers of the World Meeting of Families have allotted tickets to provide an opportunity for families to see to Pope at a closer distance. The organizers of the event allotted 10,000 tickets for the Pope’s address at the Independence Hall, another 10,000 tickets for the Festival of Families and another 10,000 for his Sunday Mass on the 27th.

Tickets for the first event were released September 8 and all were reserved in just minutes. The next day, the next 10,000 were reserved within two minutes time. The final tickets for the Pope’s Sunday mass beat the previous two records and were all gone in just 30 seconds.

There’s nothing wrong with this if the first ones to reserve tickets are truly interested in seeing the Pope. Additionally, the public clamor to see the pope is really strong. But the bad news is that scalpers, including criminals, saw it as an opportunity to earn money from those desperate to have tickets.

Right after the tickets were all distributed, numerous advertisements selling them online have sprouted up. The organizers of the event have even caught people selling fake tickets. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia clarified that the tickets are distributed for free and expressed their sadness on the idea that it has become the subject of profiteering.

According to the Archdiocese’ spokesman Kenneth A. Gavin, “The visit of Pope Francis is meant to be an experience open to all. Papal tickets are never intended to be sold. It was always our hope that individuals would utilize the tickets to experience the visit of Pope Francis. We made reasonable efforts to provide for ease of registration for the free tickets while preventing scalping and hoarding.”

Pope’s visit is always a security nightmare

Unlike his predecessors, Pope Francis has always wanted to be close and personal with people. The Pope is known to preferring the use of a non-bulletproof popemobile, request stops or pauses in his convoy, and even come close to the crowd especially when he sees children and the sick. This is a security nightmare for all the countries he visits.

Even if the Pope hasn’t arrived in the U.S. yet, Homeland Security is already investigating several possible threats on the Pope. In an interview with ABC News, Texas Rep. Michael McCaul confirmed that the Security Committee in-charge with the Pope’s visit and the Secret Service has already disrupted one particular and eminent threat targeting the pontiff during his visit. Because the threats are highly classified, details were not elaborated.

Pope’s Travel Plans After America

On Thursday, September 10, the Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis will visit the African continent from November 25 to 30 this year. Three countries were on the list namely Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic.

This can be considered as one of the most risky trips for the Pope since Kenya is home to the Al-Shabab Islamic militants, a group of Muslim extremist that is connected to the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. The group is noted for its terrorist activities and attacks on Christians and non-Muslims.

Uganda is also a country where Christians are prosecuted. During the 19th century, several people have also perished for being Christians.

On the other hand, The Central African Republic has been plagued by violence until this date. It’s a country where Muslim factions and Christian groups are killing each other. Civil and political unrest remains in the country. 

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