By Sarah Mac Donald - 03 July, 2018
Time is running out for those who have not yet booked their tickets for the papal Mass in the Phoenix Park on 26 August.
As of Monday morning, there was less than 20,000 tickets remaining out of 500,000 for the closing Mass of World Meeting of Families 2018.
Organisers have urged anyone anxious to see Pope Francis to book their tickets immediately in order to avoid disappointment.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Brenda Drumm, WMOF2018 media and communications manager said the request for tickets for all World Meeting of Families events had been “overwhelming by any standards”.
WMOF2018 has received 37,000 registrations from 114 countries across the globe for the three-day congress at the RDS.
“Most of these are young parents with children,” Brenda Drumm said. “We have 6,000 under-18s coming to the RDS alone. This is the highest registration of this age group for any World Meeting to date.”
The huge uptake in tickets is despite the efforts of the ‘Say Nope to the Pope’ campaign.
Last week, members of that campaign said they were booking thousands of tickets in the hope of reducing attendances at the Phoenix Park Mass.
However, on Monday, Richard Duffy, who spoke on RTE’s Liveline last week about the 692 tickets he had booked, issued a statement in which he said he never intended to “take tickets away from the public”.
In his statement, the father of two said, “Many Catholic people fear they may not be able to obtain tickets to the event in Phoenix Park and feel personally affronted by the method this protest is using. I had viewed the inconvenience of tickets becoming unavailable to those who wanted to go as a necessary side effect of the protest, and not its aim.”
“The primary goal of loudly expressing dissatisfaction has been accomplished. I no longer think that risking depriving tickets from people who genuinely want them is necessary.”
He said that if the Phoenix Park event does end up selling out, he would contact the World Meeting of Families to give them as much information as he could so that they could nullify his bookings.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described those who applied for tickets to see the Pope but have no intention of attending the event as “petty and mean-spirited”.
“Protest is legitimate and okay, but denying other people the opportunity to attend a mass or an event is not legitimate protest in my view and is most unfair. It should be condemned,” Mr Varadkar said last week.
However, Richard Duffy hit back at the Taoiseach’s comments.
“A number of people have described this protest as ‘petty’. I feel that describing any action taken against the abuses of the church as ‘petty’, is shameful.”
He added, “Given the scale of the abuses of the church, no reaction to that can justifiably be described as ‘petty’.”