Your chances of seeing Pope Francis up close and personal in Philadelphia just got harder — unless you go to a Catholic church in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Access to most of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where the pope will visit a festival and say Mass on Sept. 26-27, will require tickets — and they will be distributed almost entirely to parishes in the archdiocese, which comprises Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware and Philadelphia counties.
Until now, the website of the World Meeting of Families, which is hosting the visit, had said no tickets would be required for the Saturday Festival of Families and the Mass the following day.
But a Secret Service security map, released Wednesday, shows a ticketed area stretching from above the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Francis will say Mass, to Logan Circle, about a mile away.
The papal visit is expected to draw up to 2 million people to the city, according to various estimates.
Donna Crilley Farrell, director of the World Meeting of Families, said the ticketing plan is meant to allow "maximum public access to events involving the Holy Father in a safe and enjoyable atmosphere."
Tickets, which are free, are being made available to the 219 parishes in the archdiocese as well as to archdiocesan social service ministries that "touch the lives of those [for] whom Pope Francis cares so deeply," she said.
"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," Crilley said. "It is important to be clear that the announcement of limited ticketing does not limit participation in these events in any way."
It does, however, dramatically limit how many people will get relatively close to the pontiff. Most will see the Mass and other events on 40 Jumbotrons throughout the area.
News that tickets will be required came as a dismaying surprise to those in the Lehigh Valley planning on making a trip to see the pope.
"What a Holy Mess!" Margie Shipley Scheers wrote on The Morning Call's Facebook page in response to the announcement.
And the social media reaction was no better on the other side of Philadelphia.
"You need tickets to see the Pope?" says another Facebook post by Angel Ryker of Berlin, N.J., 15 miles southeast of the city. "What is this nonsense? Seriously! So much for just a 15-mile walk each way!"
At least 15 tour buses from the Lehigh Valley will be heading to Philadelphia, many carrying parishioners from the Allentown Diocese's five-county area. That doesn't include others who are making the journey on their own.
The Allentown Diocese, home to 273,000 Catholics, is receiving just 400 tickets — 200 for Saturday and 200 for Sunday — that will likely be distributed through a lottery system, spokesman Matt Kerr said. The tickets are for a "reserved standing area," he said.
Ann Hersh of Bethlehem Township booked a hotel room in Philadelphia as soon as the papal visit was confirmed in November. She was disappointed to learn the event would now be ticketed, likely leaving her at some distance from Francis.
"I'm going to put it on Facebook with my Catholic Philly friends to see if they can help me out with a ticket," she said. "It's disappointing, but it's not going to stop me."
The statement said some tickets are being allocated to include representatives from surrounding dioceses, ministerial outreach programs of Catholic Social Services and representatives of other faith communities within the Philadelphia region.
As previously announced, tickets are also required for attendance at Independence Hall, where the pope will speak Saturday. The 5,000 tickets will be made available to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis on Sept. 8. Tickets will be available online.
A separate release will be issued Friday with instructions on how to access these 5,000 tickets. There is no cost associated with these tickets.
With the pontiff's address at Independence Hall being focused on immigration and religious freedom, other tickets have been distributed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the World Meeting of Families to the ethnic apostolates and immigrant communities through the Archdiocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries.
This event will be shown across all 40 Jumbotrons within the Francis Festival Grounds for the benefit of all those celebrating the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia.
Reporter Frank Warner contributed to this story.
The Secret Service also released a list of items prohibited beyond security check points, from drones to bicycles to balloons.
•The Secret Service also released a list of pedestrian routes to all event sites. The suggested pedestrian route that is chosen will depend on your transit drop-off location and event site destination.
Poplar Street from Poplar Drive to N 27th Street
N 27th Street from Poplar Drive to Parrish Street
Parrish Street from N 27th Street to N 20th Street
N 20th Street from Parrish Street to Green Street
Green Street from N 20th Street to N Broad Street
N Broad Street from points north to Callowhill Street
N 19th Street from Green Street to Spring Garden Street
Spring Garden Street from N 19th Street to N Broad Street
Callowhill Street from N Broad Street to N 2nd Street
N 11th Street from Callowhill Street to Filbert Street
N 5th Street from Callowhill Street to the East Side of Franklin Square and the WB ramp of I-676 (Ben Franklin Bridge)
Ben Franklin Bridge (WB lanes only) to Camden, NJ
N 2nd & S 2nd Streets from Callowhill Street to Dock Street
Dock Street from S 2nd Street to Spruce Street
Spruce Street from Dock Street to S 18th Street
S 10th Street between Locust Street and Spruce Street
S Broad Street from Locust Street to all points South toward the Sports Complex
S 18th Street from Spruce Street to Walnut Street
S 19th Street from Walnut Street to Chestnut Street
Chestnut Street from S 19th Street, past 33rd Street and points West
Walnut Street from S 18th Street to 33rd Street
South Street from Convention Avenue and University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field to 33rd Street
33rd Street to Chestnut Street
Schuylkill Ave from Market Street to Walnut Street
The following streets have been identified as pedestrian routes for Parkway ticket holders attending the Festival of Families and World Meeting of Families Prayer Vigil events on Sept. 26 and the Papal Mass on Sept. 27.
N 22nd Street from Green Street to Pennsylvania Avenue
Spring Street from N 23rd Street to N 22nd Street
Green Street from N 22nd Street to N 20th Street
N 21st Street from Green Street to Pennsylvania Avenue
Hamilton Street from N 21st Street to Pennsylvania Avenue
N 20th Street from Green Street to intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Callowhill Street
S 20th Street from Chestnut to N 20th Street and Race Street
Cuthbert Street from N 20th Street to N 21st Street
N 21st Street from Cuthbert Street to Winter Street
Below are the Ben Franklin Parkway event security entry points for ticket holders on Sept. 26 (Festival of Families) and Sept. 27 (Papal Mass), beginning at 6 a.m. each day.
Pennsylvania Avenue at the intersection of N 23rd Street and Spring Garden Street
N 22nd Street at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Hamilton Street
Hamilton Street between N 21st and N 22nd Streets
21st Street between Hamilton Street and Pennsylvania Avenue
N 20th Street at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Callowhill Street
N 20th Street at Race Street
N 21st Street at Winter Street
The following streets have been identified as pedestrian routes for Ben Franklin Parkway Non-Ticket Holders (general public) attending the Festival of Families and World Meeting of Families Prayer Vigil events on Sept. 26 and the Papal Mass on Sept. 27.
N 19th Street from Spring Garden Street to Wood Street
N Broad Street from Callowhill Street to Cherry Street
Race Street from N Broad Street to N 15th Street
N 15th Street from Race Street to Cherry Street
S Broad Street from Chestnut Street to Locust Street
S 15th Street from Chestnut Street to Spruce Street
S 19th Street from Cherry Street to Chestnut Street
18th Street from Cherry Street to John F. Kennedy Boulevard
John F. Kennedy Boulevard from 19th Street to 17th Street
Market Street from 19th Street to 17th Street
Below are the Ben Franklin Parkway event security entry points for non-ticket holders on Saturday, Sept. 26 (Festival of Families), beginning at 6 a.m.
N 15th Street at Cherry Street
N Broad Street at Cherry Street
S Broad Street at Chestnut Street
S 15th Street at Chestnut Street
S 17th Street at Market Street
S 17th Street at John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Below are the Ben Franklin Parkway event security entry points for non-ticket holders on Sunday, September 27, 2015 (Papal Mass), beginning at 6 a.m.
N 19th Street at Wood Street
N 18th Street at Cherry Street
N 19th Street at Cherry Street
The following streets have been identified as pedestrian routes for Independence Mall ticket holders attending the Meeting for Religious Freedom events on Sept. 26.
N 6th Street from Callowhill Street to Race Street
Race Street from N 5th Street to N 2nd Street
Arch Street from N 5th Street to N 2nd Street
Market Street from N 4th Street to N 2nd Street
Below are the Independence Mall event security entry points for ticket holders on Sept. 26 (Meeting for Religious Freedom), beginning at 6 a.m.
N 6th Street at Race Street
N 5th Street at Race Street
N 5th Street at Arch Street
N 4th Street at Market Street
S 4th Street at Chestnut Street
Security Screenings: All attendees, including general public and ticketed guests, will be subject to a thorough security screening before entering the events on the Ben Franklin Parkway and Independence Mall. Please allow for additional time for security screening, as it is expected that lines may be long.
General Prohibited Items: As a security precaution, the following items will be prohibited from the Ben Franklin Parkway events on Saturday, September 26, 2015 and Sunday, September 27, 2015. Additionally, the following items will be prohibited from the events at Independence Mall on Saturday, September 26, 2015.
Animals other than service/guide animals
Backpacks and bags exceeding the size restrictions (18" x 13" x 7")
Hard Coolers (Soft-sided thermal coolers ARE allowed)
Drones and other unmanned aircraft systems
Glass, thermal or metal containers
Signs exceeding the size restrictions (5' x 3' x 1/4") made of any material except cardboard, poster board or cloth
Supports for signs and placards
Weapons of any kind
Any other items determined to be a potential safety hazard