.- The two archdioceses hosting public papal Masses during Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming U.S. visit have received more than 200,000 ticket requests from Catholics around the nation, USA Today reports.
There are about twice as many ticket requests as there are seats available.
Only 46,000 seats are available for the Mass at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., while 57,000 will be available at Yankees Stadium in New York City.
On Friday dioceses will be notified of the exact number of tickets they will have to distribute, but people are already pursuing tickets.
After posting on its website a notice about acquiring tickets, the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s website shut down for an hour.
In Dallas, more than 300 pastors wrote letters attesting to parishioners’ requests for seats. Two of the diocese’s 20 seats at the New York Mass will go to a woman who wrote that her sick daughter would benefit from attending a Mass with the Pope. "People are very excited about their faith and about coming together as a family with the Holy Father," said Annette Gonzales Taylor, according to the Washington Post.
In both cities most of the tickets will be distributed to local parishes and surrounding dioceses. For the Washington Mass, 9,990 will be divided among the nearby states, with the Diocese of Arlington receiving 6,000. The numbers of tickets distributed to parishes in Washington will be based on parish Mass attendance size and whether it has a school or a significant religious education program. Parish priests will decide how to distribute such tickets.
Additionally, 14,000 other tickets for the Washington Mass will be distributed around the country.
Archdiocese of New York spokesman Joseph Zwilling said security would be tight at the venues on the New York leg of the Pope’s trip. Attendees will use bar-coded tickets and be required to show government identification. Security officials will also conduct searches of some people.
Both security concerns and religious principle will also forbid scalping the tickets, which are distributed to the ticket holders at no cost. “We don’t charge people to come to Mass,” Zwilling said.