In less than a week, it'll be all Pope Benedict, all the time. And right now, it practically seems that way already, with planners working overtime to make sure the Papal Visit goes off without a hitch. The NY Times has a great article about the logistics involved with the April 20 mass at Yankee Stadium: "How do 530 priests and deacons give communion to 57,000 people in 14 minutes?" There's even a related graphic outlining the difficulty of navigating various parts of Yankee Stadium.
However, the Pope's visit comes as Catholic schools are facing tough times. Inner city schools may disappear within 10 years and teachers are demanding pay raises, and teachers at 10 NYC-area schools are planning to strike. The Lay Faculty Association, the union for Catholic school teachers, has a permit to picket outside St. Joseph's Seminary, where the Pope will bless 50 disabled children and later participate in rally/prayer service with young Catholics.
The Post reports a photographer covering the Pope's visit was robbed, and inside his bag was an itinerary with more detailed information about the Pope's entrance and exit plans. Authorities are concerned but don't think the already high security will be compromised.
And one area the Pope will visit is Ground Zero, which Reuters says is expected to be an "emotional high point" of his trip. He will deliver a prayer with some members of September 11 victims' families, and the Vatican released the prayer. The full text is below:
Text of Pope Benedict's prayer, to be given at Ground Zero on April 20:
"O God of love, compassion, and healing, look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions, who gather today at this site, the scene of incredible violence and pain.
"We ask you in your goodness to give eternal light and peace to all who died here -- the heroic first-responders: our fire fighters, police officers, emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel, along with all the innocent men and women who were victims of this tragedy simply because their work or service brought them here on September 11, 2001.
"We ask you, in your compassion to bring healing to those who, because of their presence here that day, suffer from injuries and illness.
"Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy. Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope. We are mindful as well of those who suffered death, injury, and loss on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
"Our hearts are one with theirs as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering. God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world: peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the earth.
"Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred. God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy, we seek your light and guidance as we confront such terrible events.
"Grant that those whose lives were spared may live so that the lives lost here may not have been lost in vain. Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all."