Vatican seeks answers for low turnout for pope

May 21, 2009 13:34

Roman Catholic Church officials say they would like an explanation from Israel for the poor turnout at Pope Benedict XVI's open-air mass in Jerusalem last week. Monsignor Antonio Franco, the papal nuncio in the Holy Land, said Thursday that church officials are still trying to figure out what happened. He says he's received reports that worshippers with tickets were turned away at the entrance while others received their tickets too late. Franco said it was premature to blame Israel. Some 5,000 worshippers expected at the May 12 mass next to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christianity says Jesus prayed before he was arrested. But no more than 3,000 people arrived. Police said the event went smoothly.

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