Those planning Pope Benedict XVI’s April visit to New York are considering security concerns, the logistics of stadium seating, and the threat of ticket-scalping at the Papal Mass, the Washington Post reports.
The District of Columbia will be tightly controlled for the first papal visit to the city in 29 years. Unlike John Paul II’s visit, in which the late Pope stood in a convertible and waved to crowds, Pope Benedict will not proceed through the streets in a public motorcade. He is scheduled to visit both the White House and Catholic University, but he will only appear in public for a Mass at the Washington Nationals stadium.
The Archdiocese of Washington is planning the April 17 Mass, which will begin at 10 a.m. Local seminarians will be altar servers and laypeople will be chosen to read the scriptures, while Washington-area parish choirs will provide music.
Organizers at Nationals Park initially planned to place the altar for the Mass at second base, mirroring plans for the Pope’s New York stop at Yankee Stadium. Realizing the potential for 4,000 more seats, they moved the altar to deep center field. 45,000 seats are now available.
Pope Benedict will ride into and around the stadium in the popemobile, the vehicle specially designed for his public appearances.
Though ticket distribution plans for the Papal Mass have not been completed, major Catholic events in the past have distributed tickets through parishes and Catholic organizations.
Non-Catholics can attend the Mass, the archdiocese confirmed.
However, the archdiocese is concerned that the free tickets for the Mass will be scalped on internet sites like eBay. Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington, said that the Mass "is for the faithful who want to be with the Holy Father."
"It shouldn't be an opportunity for people to make money," she said.
The Pope will visit the White House on April 16, his birthday. He will then meet with U.S. bishops at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. After celebrating Mass at Nationals Stadium the following day, he will address educators at Catholic University and meet with non-Christian religious leaders at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center.
He will leave Washington, D.C. for New York City on April 18, where he will address the United Nations and celebrate Mass at Yankee Stadium.