Tickets at a premium for papal events as Pope Francis's Irish diary is confirmed
Those hoping to see Pope Francis when he visits Ireland in August may find themselves scrambling to secure a ticket for a papal event as places will be capped at every venue for health and safety reasons.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has revealed that those attending the outdoor papal Mass in the Phoenix Park on the afternoon of Sunday, August 26, will have to obtain a ticket and these have been limited to 500,000.
An additional 20,000 places have been been reserved for volunteers, priests, security, medical staff and choirs.
However, there is space for an additional 80,000 kept aside for overflow, as required by health and safety regulations.
The Festival of Families, which Pope Francis will attend on Saturday evening, August 25, in Croke Park, will be restricted to 80,000 tickets, while the crowd who will hear the Pope recite the Angelus in Knock will be capped at just 45,000 people.
This is despite the fact that tens of thousands of Catholics from the North are expected to want tickets for Phoenix Park and Knock now that a papal visit north of the Border has been ruled out.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, president of the World Meeting of Families, yesterday explained why registrations were being capped for papal events.
He said when Pope John Paul II came to Ireland in 1979, "There were two words that weren't used - health and safety. We have a very different regime now and rightly so".
He said a very large number of families would be bringing their children to these events and so safety and accessibility had to be prioritised.
Dr Martin highlighted that those who would like to see the Pope without going to Mass could do this as the pontiff travels through the city in a popemobile [car].
"I would like the Pope to see, not just the attractions of Dublin, but the places where people live, the challenge of being a family in Irish society and their many difficulties," Dr Martin said.
It was also confirmed yesterday that Pope Francis will meet representatives of survivors of clerical sexual abuse and former residents of religious-run institutions when he visits.
However, the packed two-day schedule makes no mention in its official itinerary of a meeting between the pontiff and abuse survivors. Dr Diarmuid Martin explained that the official itinerary was "the basic outline" of the places the Pope will visit and the meetings he will hold, and that details of other meetings might be added at a later stage.
He highlighted that in the Pope's journeys to different parts of the world, he has always met with abuse survivors.
"Generally speaking, he has met them quietly to respect their anonymity and we will be looking at the way that that can be done. We will find a way in which the Pope will be able to address the concerns of all of those people," he said.