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Secret Service: The best seats for the Pope’s Sunday mass require tickets (and you probably can’t get them)

This story was updated at 8:56 p.m.

The best areas where Pope Francis will make public appearances in Philadelphia will apparently be ticketed, according to an email the Secret Service sent Wednesday, despite earlier assurances from the World Meeting of Families that the papal events on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway would “be free and open to the public.”

From the WMOF’s FAQ page:

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But sources involved in the planning for the event confirmed to Billy Penn that a ticketed area was always planned for the front of the Parkway events and was expanded recently… and that these tickets are not for sale to the general public. They’ll go instead to select parishes in the area.

The map sent by the Secret Service noted that the area colored in red by the Parkway would only be accessible to ticket holders. That area includes everywhere from beyond the Art Museum to 20th Street at Logan Square and from the Schuylkill River to MLK Drive.

The area accessible for ticket holders only at Independence Mall is blue and encapsulates Fourth or Fifth Street to Seventh Street and Race Street to Walnut Street. That event had not been called “free and open to the public” by the World Meeting of Families, as the Parkway events had (you can see a PDF copy of the map here).

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“These plans were put in place to ensure that representatives representing the vibrant life and ongoing work of the Archdiocese were part of these joyful events,” Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting of Families, said in an apparent statement quoted by The Inquirer and The Morning Call.

“It is important to be clear that the announcement of limited ticketing does not limit participation in these events in any way. There is plenty of room for all who wish to attend.”

The Call reports the Diocese of Allentown has a total of 400 Pope tickets, which it is planning to distribute via a lottery system. It’s likely the other dioceses within the Philadelphia Archdiocese have similar arrangements.

Earlier, a source involved in planning for the World Meeting of Families told Billy Penn that the Papal Mass tickets were not for sale, and were reserved for sponsors of the event, as well as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, among others.

Pope Francis will be appearing on the Parkway Saturday evening for the Festival of Families and on Sunday to give a public mass. He’s making a speech about immigration Saturday at Independence Mall.

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