Bethlehem Christians play tombola to win tickets to Pope's Mass

Bets for Papal tickets

The few remaining tickets to Pope Francis’ Mass in Bethlehem this Saturday have become precious goods that are hard to come by, reports Reuters in Vatican Insider.

To ensure it’s not just friends of friends who manage to get their hands on them, Palestinian Christians have come up with some very imaginative ways of  distributing them fairly: On Monday parishioners in Beit Jala bet them in games of tombola; yesterday they raffled them off, said Mario Cornioli, a Tuscan priest 'on loan' to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, wrote on his blog.

Manger Square in front of the Church of the Nativity will be able to hold 10,000 people at most, including visitors from Jerusalem and Galilee.

Fr Cornioli said '649 permits were sent to the Gaza strip parish which is home to 1800 Christians, most of whom are Orthodox.' But the Israeli authorities have not granted passes to entire families, in some cases they have granted them to children but not their parents and vice versa.

Many will have to miss the Pope’s mass. All those aged between 16 and 35 have been left out too. Of Gaza’s young people, therefore, only a select few teens will get to see the Pope. The young couple from Gaza who were meant to attend the Pope’s lunch with Palestinian families will also be staying home. Both of the spouses are under 35 but they didn’t get a permit. A 37-year-old woman will be going instead of them.

Those who managed to get hold of a pass are filled with excitement and anticipation ahead of the event. 'But there is a growing disappointment and sense of unease among the many Christians in the Holy Land, particularly in Galilee: they know they won’t get to see or pray with their beloved Pope,' Fr Cornioli explained.

FULL STORY Bethlehem: Christians play tombola to allocate last remaining tickets (Vatican Insider)

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