ASK FATHER: Selling freely obtained tickets to Francis’ Mass in Canada

From a reader…


Pope Francis is coming to my city in Canada and having a large Papal Mass at the football stadium. Tickets to attend are being given away free, but now on our Archdiocese’s Facebook page people are trying to sell (for money not give away) the tickets they got for free. Is this the sin of simony?

My first thought is that for it to be simony, there has to be a market for it, that is, the thing has to be worth something.

But then again, maybe there will be an exciting halftime show.

Seriously, simony is the deliberate intention to buy and sell or traffic in sacred things.  We can distinguish two kinds of simony.  There is simony of divine law: the buying and selling of things that are intrinsically spiritual (e.g., indulgences).  There is simony of ecclesiastical law: the buying and selling of temporal goods attached to the spiritual.

A seat for an event in a stadium is a temporal good.  In this case it is attached to a spiritual good: the ability to be present at Mass.

I would inform your Archdiocese of what is going on.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Rod Halvorsen says:

    “My first thought is that for it to be simony, there has to be a market for it, that is, the thing has to be worth something.”

    Oh………………..Father Z………………

    I personally have nothing more to add. :)

  2. iPadre says:

    It reminds me of the days, before I was born, when people had to obtain tickets to attend Christmas Masses. At least this happened in Woonsocket, RI. Not sure if it happened in other places.

    Today, we have to “go out to the highways and byways to invite them to the banquet.”

  3. j stark says:

    Would the son of simony apply to a Church auctioning tickets for a front row space at a graduation, Christmas, or First Communion mass?

  4. j stark says:

    Correction sin of simony not son of simony

  5. Danteewoo says:

    There’s a market for tickets to a Francis Mass? They’d have to pay me to attend. A lot.

  6. Eugene says:

    I live in Canada, I was among the 250 thousand plus people that saw St. JPII in 1984 when he visited Toronto.
    It gives me no pleasure to state this, but I wouldn’t go within 50 feet of this “papal” visit for many reasons, but to borrow a phrase from Father Z, for fear of my eternal salvation I will not state what they are.
    We are leaderless!

  7. teomatteo says:

    And yet, He visits not Argentina.

  8. APX says:

    I live in Canada, I was among the 250 thousand plus people that saw St. JPII in 1984 when he visited Toronto

    My great aunt was a Gray Nun who taught at one of the residential schools up in Northern Saskatchewan. She was well-liked by her students (she was a very kind and generous woman.) and the money that the government paid them for teaching was given to a group of students so that that they could attend university. Those students finished university and were so grateful. They later produced a documentary about their experiences at the Residential school and how they were able to attend university thanks to the generosity of the sisters who paid their way for them. It was during that trip in 1984 that St. JPII visited my great aunt’s convent and paid her a personal visit to thank her. We have a picture this personal meeting with him, and I believe the University of Alberta has a copy of the documentary in its archives (unless they destroyed it).

    Of course, you won’t hear any of the good experiences of students who liked the residential schools and were able to get a good education because of them. Yes, bad stuff happened at some of the schools, but that doesn’t negate the good that many of the schools did. The education was much the same of what non-residential school children went through. Those whose language at home wasn’t English weren’t allowed to speak their native language, but had to speak English. Corporal punishment was used, and TB was rampant at the time and killed a lot of people, especially children. Just visit any grave yard and look at the dates.

  9. Simon_GNR says:

    I wouldn’t go to one of these huge “stadium Masses” if you paid me! There are things I wouldn’t like: not being able to kneel comfortably, if at all; Mass not in a church/chapel – a building properly consecrated for the celebration of Mass; bulk distribution of pre-consecrated hosts to the congregation, leading to increased risk of profanation of the Blessed Sacrament. In any case, Mass celebrated by the pope is no more or less holy than a mass celebrated by a humble assistant curate.

  10. Charivari Rob says:

    Trying to sell something that was given to them freely (access to a Mass, no less!) is horribly selfish, whether or not it’s simony.
    I’m a little surprised it’s even possible, but I suppose there are different ways to organize these large Papal Mass visits, and some ways might be more vulnerable to abuse than others.
    My only direct experience was JPII’s Mass in NJ in ’95. If I recall correctly, tickets weren’t really handed out to individuals before the event. Tickets were apportioned to parishes and other entities, who had to return any unclaimed to be redistributed. Nobody could travel directly to the stadium venue – there were several gathering points statewide to get shuttle buses, and each group had to check in their people to get on the buses. I think the physical tickets were handed out no earlier than that point. Of course, there might be settings where a setup like that isn’t practical.

  11. JonPatrick says:

    Half time show? Since Pope Francis and Bono are bosom buddies maybe he can get U2 to perform :)

  12. hwriggles4 says:

    I was a young college student (1st time around) when JPII visited San Antonio in 1987. I ushered with a few friends from our school (still saved my hat and sash and one of my buddies entered a religious order for a few years) and the location was in an underdeveloped area not far from where Sea World is now.

    We had to be there early and some of us slept on the ground for a little while beforehand. I had very little sleep because I delivered the local paper and got the inserts delivered the night before. It was packed at Mass and many of us could not see him except when JPII drove around in the Popemobile with the Archbishop. I was glad I was there since it was a once in a lifetime event.

    However, I think several parishes didn’t have Masses that Sunday because they wanted clergy and the congregations to see the Pope. Since it was so long ago I don’t recall some details but I don’t think our school (this was a Catholic college) even had their usual 10 PM Sunday evening Mass on campus that Sunday. Many of us college students attended the 10 PM Sunday Mass regularly.

  13. Charivari Rob says:

    iPadre, I remember Christmas Midnight Mass tickets from my childhood parish, too. I don’t believe they’ve had to do tickets the last decade or so, fortunately not because of lack of interest but they built a church 3X larger than the older one.

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