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A participant in the Say Nope to the Pope campaign says he will give his 700 tickets back

Richard Duffy said that if the Phoenix Park event sells out he will contact the organisers to nullify his bookings.

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square last week
Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square last week
Image: Evandro Inetti/PA images

A MAN WHO said he had secured almost 700 tickets as part of a Facebook campaign group to boycott Pope Francis’ Phoenix Park mass says he has changed his position on the campaign.

Richard Duffy told RTÉ Radio One’s Liveline last week that he would symbolically destroy the tickets as part of the Say Nope to The Pope Facebook campaign, which has attracted almost 5,000 people since it started last month.

However since the show, Duffy said he now understands that people of faith felt personally targeted by his actions, which was not his intention when getting involved with the campaign.

“I have come to realise that while I may not have been depriving anyone of their ability to practise their faith, I was depriving people of a choice as to how they wished to practise their faith.

Freedom of choice is important, it is something I value dearly. I must continue to support it.

Disgust

Duffy said that his initial intention in participating in the protest was to express his disgust at the”welcome mat” being rolled out for the Pope, “a mere seven years after the Taoiseach rightly stood up in the Dáil to condemn the actions of the church”.

“The media coverage over the last week or so leaves no doubt that many people are not happy with this visit,” he said. “However, the protest has had a secondary effect too. Many Catholic people fear they may not be able to obtain tickets to the event in the Phoenix Park and feel personally affronted by the method this protest is using.”

“I had viewed the inconvenience of tickets becoming unavailable to those who wanted to go as a necessary side effect of the protest, and not its aim.

“The primary goal of loudly expressing dissatisfaction has been accomplished.”

Duffy said that if the Phoenix Park event sells out he will contact the World Meeting of Families organisers to nullify his bookings.

Petty

In the Dáil last week the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the people taking part in the Say Nope to the Pope campaign as “wrong, petty and mean-spirited”.

“Protest is legitimate and okay, but denying other people the opportunity to attend a mass or an event is not legitimate protest in my view and is most unfair. It should be condemned,” Varadkar said.

But despite his change of mind on the Say Nope to the Pope campaign, Duffy disagrees with the comments made by Varadkar.

“I feel that this protest is important and I feel that this protest is legitimate.

“A number of people have described this protest as ‘petty’, I feel that describing any action taken against the abuses of the church as ‘petty’ is shameful.”

Duffy told TheJournal.ie that he will take part in more protests against the papal visit but none that will affect others right to practice their faith.

Volunteers

Separately, almost 4,000 volunteers are still needed to work at Pope Francis’ Phoenix Park Mass.

Organisers of the World Meeting of Families need another three to four thousand Papal Mass stewards to help direct the crowds expected in the park on Sunday 26 August.

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A previous call-out for people to volunteer for two to three days during the WMOF conference and the Phoenix Park Mass closed on 30 June with just over 6,000 people signing up before the deadline.

“We need as many volunteers as possible to work with us across as many days as possible and now that we’ve gotten our number there [for the two or three days], we’re just looking to increase the number of people working with us for just one day,”  Brenda Drumm, Communications Manager at the World Meeting of Families 2018 said.

“We have to rest our volunteers at a certain point. We will be operating shifts on the day [of the Mass], it will be a very early start and a long day.

 We have a duty of care to our volunteers, that’s why we need so many.

Drumm said that the WMOF is confident that it will have at least 10,000 volunteers signed up in the next couple of weeks.

“We were aware through the process of asking for volunteers that there was an awful lot of people who would have liked to have given up three or four days but because of work and families that wasn’t possible.

Now that we’re at this stage we’re putting out a renewed call and will hopefully capture a lot of those people who were interested in volunteering for one day.

The media attention around tickets for the Pope’s Phoenix Park and Knock visits going on general release has already resulted in increased queries from people who are interesting in volunteering, according to Drumm.

“That tends to happen with big announcements. We found a similar boost in interest when the Pope’s itinerary was announced. We’re confident that we’ll reach the 10,000 target.”

Applications to be a Papal Mass steward can be made here but will close in the coming weeks to allow time for the training involved.

About the author:

Adam Daly

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