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"Had we but world enough, and time..." *
Hope with the Pope4/19/2008 20:56:36
Today, unlike yesterday, I managed to summon the motivation to bike uptown into the mayhem of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to New York—code-named "Christ Our Hope." For future reference: historic events are not to be missed.
The journey began at the first sign of roadblocks and police cars on Madison Avenue at the low 40s. I had several totally bizarre encounters with police, all of whom gave me a totally different story when I asked if the Pope would be parading publicly today.
The first crowd I came across, between the empty, blocked-off stretches of Madison Avenue, was a group of protesters. This is where the police had put them: three blocks south of the Cathedral and in the opposite direction from the Pope's travel plans. And what did these dangerous rabble-rousers amount to? A couple dozen atheists, a handful angry about pedophile priests, and a single guy calling Benedict XVI "Hitler's Pope." I talked some with the atheists and then biked on, upward on Sixth Avenue.
Sure enough, I was already amidst a thick crowd, dotted by nuns. And starting at Central Park (59th Street), there was a crowd already gathered on either side of Fifth Avenue. No tickets and plenty of room for me and my bike. I walked all the way up to the end at Benedict's destination at the Vatican apartment on 72nd Street. Groups of pilgrims singing with guitars and dancing in circles. Guys selling buttons, t-shirts, banners, posters, and flags with the Pope or Vatican emblems on them. In the end I settled in around 65th Street and waited.
There I watched the police. There were billions of them. I'd never before quite realized the extent to which the NYPD is an army. Their cars whizzed by and a helicopter buzzed overhead.
A bit after 1:00 in the afternoon, a fleet of police motorcycles appeared, signaling the Pope's approach. The people around me were glad to catch a glimpse of the Popemobile, as we'd heard that he may be taking a closed-window limo. He passed slowly, waiving. A wave of people ran alongside him through the crowd to lengthen their exposure. Dressed in white, Benedict was radiant. I saw the Pope once before while in Vatican City several years ago. In the comfort of his fiefdom, he could ride in an open car. In New York, he took to the bulletproof Popemobile. Before, also, he was dressed in bright red, Santa Claus-style.
Then I got on my bike and had a good ride home. Enjoy the movie, but be forgiving. It's my first attempt.
re: Hope with the Pope - 4/20/2008 12:16:43
re: Hope with the Pope - 4/29/2008 12:56:03