Public to have limited chances to see Pope Francis in D.C.

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has a jam-packed two-day schedule Sept. 23-24 when he visits Washington. But the opportunities for the public to see the pope in person during his Washington stay appear to be limited.

“Tickets to the canonization mass over at the Basilica, there’s a very limited number of them, due to the small size of the venue,” says Chieko Noguchi, spokeswoman for the Washington Archdiocese.  The mass on the east portico of the Basilica is expected to be attended by about 25,000 on the grounds of Catholic University.

“Every parish received a small allotment of tickets for the pastor to distribute to his parishioners,” Noguchi says.

There is expected to be live television coverage and online streaming of the mass.

During Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 visit to the nation’s capital, he celebrated mass for 50,000 at Nationals Park. In 1979, Pope John Paul II said mass for 175,000 on the National Mall. Pope Francis’ big public mass will be held in Philadelphia at the World Meeting of Families on Sept. 27.

On Sept. 24, Pope Francis will become the first pope to address a joint meeting of Congress.  Invited guests will be able to watch the pope’s speech via giant TV screens erected on the West Front of the Capitol. Nearly 27,000 tickets are being made available for the West Front gathering and the pope is expected to make a brief appearance. Each member of Congress has been allotted 50 tickets to provide to their constituents.

The Pope is scheduled to arrive Sept. 22 at Andrews Air Force Base.  Other events on his schedule include a welcoming ceremony at the White House,  prayers with U.S. bishops at Saint Matthew’s Cathedral and visits to Saint Patrick’s Church on 10th Street NW and nearby Catholic Charities.

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