World

Pope's N.Y. visit has scalpers asking top dollar for 'free' tickets

Shortly after 80,000 free tickets were handed out for the Pope's visit to New York, they were being sold online for hundreds or thousands of dollars. Some sites are cracking down as critics say it goes against everything Francis stands for.

Cardinal, politicians condemn resale of free tickets for Francis's Central Park appearance

Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he arrives to celebrate Mass at Christ the Redeemer square in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on July 9, 2015. He is scheduled to visit New York later this month. (Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press)

Pope Francis called capitalism the "dung of the devil" earlier this year, so he probably won't be happy to learn that free tickets to see him in New York are now selling for hundreds and thousands of dollars online.

New York City held a lottery to give away 80,000 free tickets to New York state residents to see the Pope during a procession through Central Park on Sept. 25.

As quickly as the Popemobile will speed by, the tickets started appearing online. On one site, they're available from $100 to $1,500, with other sellers entertaining any offers. 

"It's absolutely inconsistent with everything that this Pope stands for," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

His office is working with sites like eBay and Craigslist to take down any posts offering the tickets.

"That's truly troubling, it's disgusting that anyone would take a free ticket for someone to see His Holiness, and decide to resell it," de Blasio said Monday at an event to discuss security for the Pope's visit. 

It's absolutely inconsistent with everything that this Pope stands for.- Bill de Blasio, NYC mayor

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, on Sunday was joined by state and other officials condemning the practice.

"Tickets for events with Pope Francis are distributed free for a reason — to enable as many New Yorkers as possible, including those of modest means, to be able to participate in the Holy Father's visit to New York," said Dolan in a statement.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer echoed those remarks calling on ticket holders to "do the right thing" if they can't use their tickets and return them. Schumer praised eBay for banning the sale of Pope tickets.

"My message to anyone thinking about doing that is to look deep into your heart," Schumer said in a statement.

A spokesperson for eBay told CBC News that Pope ticket listings are not allowed on the site as they violate policies and the company is actively removing them. 

New York state politicians have tried in the past to ban the resale of tickets for charity and non-profit events, but it's been a losing battle. In 2012, free tickets to a benefit concert for Hurricane Sandy victims were posted online for up to $6,500. Earlier this year, a charity concert featuring Joan Jett and Billy Idol saw tickets selling online for more than $1,200.

The Pope will visit the U.S. from Sept. 23-27, landing at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., where a welcoming ceremony will be held.

During his time in New York, the Pope is expected to visit UN headquarters, the Ground Zero memorial, a school in Harlem and hold a Mass at Madison Square Garden.

In Washington, he will make a stop at the White House for a courtesy visit with U.S. President Barack Obama, attend a session of Congress and meet with Catholic bishops.

He will also participate in the Eighth World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

now