Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"Limited Access" to Pope Benedict on U.S. Visit

Catholic News Service' Patricia Zapor has the details on the venues chosen -- and why:

One reason the liturgies with Pope Benedict won't be on the National Mall or in Central Park is simply that neither locale was available, according to communications officials with the Washington and New York archdioceses.

Susan Gibbs, communications director for the Washington Archdiocese, said the pope's visit follows immediately after the city's National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Mall -- the expanse of lawn between the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol -- could not be booked.

For one thing, the National Park Service schedules time for the mall's grassy areas to recover after big events, especially in the spring, Gibbs told Catholic News Service. The time to construct a stage for an altar and the related spaces necessary for staging a Mass concelebrated by hundreds of priests also would have been a problem, she said.

Joseph Zwilling, communications director for the New York Archdiocese, said that "Central Park wasn't an option" for this papal visit. . . .

The cost of a Mass on the Mall would have run into the millions of dollars, Gibbs said. A Washington Post report on the logistics of the 1979 Mass on the Mall estimated the cost to the city and the archdiocese at $1.9 million, or about $4.25 million in 2007 dollars. The archdiocese's share, about $400,000, would translate to more than $1.1 million today.

And those expenses included none of the contemporary security measures that such a Mass would require today, such as metal detectors and fencing to keep out people who haven't been screened.

Both Zwilling and Gibbs acknowledged that security is much easier to handle at a structure like a baseball stadium.


Mary Jo


To Pope Benedict, I can't wait until you come to America. I hope I can get tickets to the yankee stadium. How do I go about getting tickets? My husband and I would love to go.

Holy Father, my one dream is to see you and to pray with you.

Mary Jo Cunningam