With the Vatican’s release Tuesday of Pope Francis’ official U.S. itinerary, one thing became clear: If you want to see him, you’ll stand a better chance if you’re a church regular.

Church officials in the three U.S. cities Francis will visit — Washington, Philadelphia and New York — made clear that tickets for public events will primarily be doled out through parishes, as well as through other local Catholic institutions.

If you’re not active in institutional church life, however, there may be some hope. The Archdiocese of New York, which oversees parishes in Greater New York City, posted on its Web site that “a limited number of tickets will likely be distributed to other dioceses” in the state, “and they will decide how to share with their people.”

The exceptions will be in Philadelphia, where on Saturday night, Sept. 26, Francis will appear at a huge festival about family that will happen on Benjamin Franklin Parkway and is expected to be attended by 1 million people. The next day at 4 p.m., he’ll celebrate Mass on the same open spot, and 2 million are expected. Details of how to get into those events haven’t been released.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Washington’s archbishop, said in a Tuesday morning news conference that the process of distributing tickets hasn’t started. Church officials need to figure out with security consultants how many people can fit at each of the events during that week of Sept. 22-27, and then the process of giving out tickets will begin.

In the meantime, each diocese has a place for people to look for or sign up for updates when the ticketing process does begin. Here are links for Philadelphia, D.C. and New York.

Wuerl also noted the emphasis the first Latin American pope will make to connect with the huge Latino segment of the U.S. church. In Washington, he will celebrate the first-ever canonization — a saint-making ceremony — in the United States of the late Spanish friar Junipero Serra. “A significant portion of tickets” for the canonization Mass on Sept. 23 will be for Latinos, Wuerl said.

In a story last week, The Post gave an early look at a draft copy of the itinerary and some of the discussions that went into it. But on Tuesday, the official trip began to take shape, including the first details of the pope’s stop in Cuba.

Francis will meet in Cuba with President Raul Castro and celebrate Mass in three cities during his Sept. 19-22 stay. (For those keeping track, his trip to the island nation is just one day shorter than his visit to the United States.)

Longtime church-watchers saw different things in the itinerary. Some said the multiple stops connecting with the disenfranchised — a prison, a Catholic Charities facility that serves the homeless, mentally ill and others — seemed like a break from previous popes’ schedules. Some said his many public talks — speeches and homilies — stood out as well.

“It’s clear it’s very much shaped by him and his vison. Often popes, as with presidents, are managed by a team, which is understandable. But he is clearly doing things that reflect his own priorities,” the Rev. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, said Tuesday. He noted that Francis chose to visit a predominantly African American school in Harlem, despite the fact that the vast majority of black Americans aren’t Catholic. “He is very sensitive to addressing racial division.”

The official version includes big-ticket items that have been known for months,  including a first-ever pope talk to a joint session of Congress, an address before the United Nations and a meeting with President Obama.

He is also expected to speak often about the plight of immigrants and those living in poverty. In addition to his visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, Francis will come to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia. As The Post has previously noted, the Argentinian pope plans to speak in Spanish for large portions of his visit.

The full schedule also confirms that the pope will hold an inter-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York during his trip.

Here is the schedule released Tuesday:


  • 4 p.m.    Arrival from Cuba at Joint Base Andrews


  • 9:15  a.m.  Meeting with President Obama at the White House
  • 11:30 a.m. Midday prayer with the bishops of the United States, St. Matthew’s Cathedral
  • 4:15  p.m.  Mass of Canonization of Junipero Serra, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception


  • 9:20  a.m.  Address to a joint session of Congress
  • 11:15 a.m. Visit to St. Patrick in the City and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington
  • 4 p.m.   Depart from Joint Base Andrews
  • 5 p.m.   Arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • 6:45 p.m.   Evening Prayer (Vespers) at St. Patrick’s Cathedral


  • 8:30  a.m. Visit to the United Nations and address to the U.N. General Assembly
  • 11:30 a.m. Multi-religious service at 9/11 Memorial and Museum, World Trade Center
  • 4 p.m.  Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School, East Harlem
  • 6 p.m.  Mass at Madison Square Garden


  • 8:40  a.m.  Departure from John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • 9:30  a.m.  Arrival at Atlantic Aviation, Philadelphia
  • 10:30 a.m. Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia
  • 4:45  p.m.  Visit to Independence Mall
  • 7:30  p.m.  Visit to the Festival of Families Benjamin Franklin Parkway


  • 9:15   a.m.  Meeting with bishops at at St. Martin’s Chapel, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
  • 11 a.m. Visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility
  • 4 p.m.   Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families, Benjamin Franklin Parkway
  • 7 p.m.  Visit with organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families, Atlantic Aviation
  • 8 p.m.  Departure for Rome