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Nope to Pope! Irish campaign to boycott August papal visit

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Thousands of Irish campaigners are mobilising online for a boycott of Pope Francis’s visit in August, pledging to book free tickets to an open-air mass and then stay away.

The Catholic Church’s influence has waned following multiple abuse scandals in Ireland and many comments on the Facebook group voice anger at religious authorities.

Jonathan Keane, who is taking part in the protest, said he had booked 863 tickets.

“I signed up because as an Irishman, I am sick of all the scandals from the church,” he told AFP.

He said it was a “simple peaceful act of protest as resistance to the Catholic Church”.

The pontiff is visiting Ireland for the first time on August 25 and 26, for the World Meeting of Families 2018 culminating in a giant mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

The “Say Nope to the Pope” Facebook group, which has 5,000 supporters, intends to keep the turnout down by snapping up as many of the 500,000 free tickets as possible.

Several posted articles on cases of clerical abuse and paedophilia which have emerged in recent years.

However, some said it was wrong to prevent those who wanted to attend the mass from doing so.

The World Meeting of Families is a giant Catholic gathering which has occurred every three years since 1994 in cities such as Milan, Rome, Manila, Rio de Janeiro and Philadelphia.

“It is disappointing that some people would try to undermine the right of ordinary families to go to Mass with the Holy Father, showing little respect for the right to religious freedom,” a spokeswoman for the event told AFP.

Pope Francis visits the Republic of Ireland three months after 66 percent voted in a referendum to lift a constitutional ban on abortion.

Three years ago, 62 percent voted to legalise same-sex marriage.

The last papal visit to Ireland was in 1979, when a million people attended a mass by John Paul II in Phoenix Park.