Saturday, March 29, 2008

Associated Press: Public "less likely" to see Pope due to security concerns

The Associated Press reports today that the public will be "less likely" to see the Pope in Washington DC:

On Oct. 6, 1979, Pope John Paul II emerged from a car's sunroof, waving and smiling to thousands of cheering onlookers who lined Washington streets and even climbed trees for a glimpse of the Roman Catholic leader.

Things will be different when Pope Benedict XVI arrives next month.

The public will have fewer opportunities to see Benedict because of security concerns and a tighter schedule. Benedict has just one public event in the nation's capital — a Mass at the Nationals stadium on April 17 — and will travel through the city in a closed car or in the popemobile, a specially designed and secure vehicle used by the pontiff during public appearances.

"His visit reflects the times we live in," said Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington. "There has to be a little higher level of security, unfortunately."


Organizers of Benedict's Mass in Washington are going out of their way to ensure that only legitimate attendees will enter the stadium. The tickets are nontransferable and each is bar-coded to a specific seat, Gibbs said. That way, if the archdiocese learns of a ticket being scalped on the Internet, the ticket can be canceled. To enter the stadium, adults will have to show a government-issued ID and pass through metal detectors.

New Yorkers don't get off so easily either. According to the New York Archdiocese, "there have been more than 200,000 requests for the 57,000 or so seats for the Mass."