Philippine bishops warn clergy: beware of scam 'tickets' for papal visit

(Photo: REUTERS /Bullit Marquez / Pool)Bishop Socrates Villegas (back to camera) prays during interment rites for former Philippines president Corazon "Cory" Aquino at Manila Memorial Park at suburban Paranaque south of Manila August 5, 2009. The funeral procession lasted nine hours as tens of thousands of supporters lined up the route to bid goodbye to the former President. From left are three of her children, Kris, Maria Elena Aquino Cruz, center, and Sen. Benigno Aquino III.

Roman Catholic bishops in the Philippines have asked the clergy to be on the lookout for fake scalpers and swindlers peddling what they call "tickets" for events related to Pope Francis' scheduled January visit.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines advised the public Friday against falling prey to these unscrupulous groups.

It stressed that those who want to attend the papal gatherings will get free admission.

The Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto, informed church organization about the fraudulent enterprise, the CBCP News reported.

In a letter to CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Vatican envoy Pinto said his office was informed of the "unpleasant information."

He said that the Church hierarchy must tap "every possible channel" inform the public about the scam.

"It is regrettable that some cabal might wish to take advantage of the papal visit to exploit innocent people and enrich themselves," said Pinto in the letter dated July 8.

The Vatican official urged Villegas to inform Filipinos and those who wish to attend the papal events that they can attend for free.

"No tickets will be sold for any of the papal gatherings," said Pinto. "[The CBCP] should persuade the people to desist from purchasing such tickets," he stressed.

Earlier in July top Filipino churchmen announced the forthcoming visit of Pope Francis to the country, primarily to offer comfort to survivors of the back-to-back disasters that hit Visayas, an earthquake and Typhoon "Yolanda" late last year.

The announcement was made in Manila following the CBCP plenary assembly - the highest Catholic decision-making body in the Philippines. It did not, however, disclose the exact date of the pontiff's arrival, pending formal announcement from the Vatican.

But Monsignor Nevin Perera, the coordinator of Sri Lankan migrants in Italy revealed to the Catholic News Agency last month that Pope Francis was flying to the Philippines on January 15, following a two-day trip to Sri Lanka.

Copyright © 2014 Ecumenical News