Thursday, April 17
Would you be willing to drive across the country just on the chance that you would catch a glimpse of Pope Benedict XVI?
ABC 7's Stacey Baca found a group of Catholics from Chicago and Peoria who did just that. They were thrilled when their persistence paid off and the Pope passed right in front of them in his popemobile.
On the campus of The Catholic University of America, we watched as lines of people snaked for a considerable distance, waiting to pass through airport-style security checks. They were those who considered themselves fortunate, because they held tickets for the Pope's arrival at the university. Those security checks impacted us as well as we prepared our reports for ABC 7. It turned out that our live shot locations (where the cameras are situated for reporters to be on-camera) were in one security zone while the building where we write and edit our reports was in another. You couldn't get from one location to the other unless you passed through the same lengthy security screening process as everyone else. That made for some challenging moments as reporters and photographers and editors scrambled around the campus trying to meet their deadlines. It was somewhat like running in an airport to catch a flight - when you know you're late - again and again.
On Thursday, Stacey and her photographer Jim Mastri will be covering the Pope as he celebrates mass at the new Nationals ballpark. While the mass doesn't technically begin until about 10am, Stacey and Jim will be boarding a media shuttle bus around 2:30 in the morning, so they can get the proper security clearance and get inside the ballpark to cover the story.
I'll be traveling with another of our photographers, Rich Hillengas, as we move on to New York City in preparation for the Pope's arrival there on Friday morning.
Hope you'll find our coverage - both in Washington and New York - worthwhile viewing. See you on ABC 7 - and here on the web.
Tuesday, April 15 - 7 p.m.
Monday, April 14 - 8:24 p.m.
For months, the nation's capital has been preparing for this visit and now it's here. Washington is accustomed to the comings and goings of foreign dignitaries, but when the Pope comes to town, even this city has to stop and take notice. President Bush will travel out to Andrews Air Force Base on Tuesday to be there personally when Shepherd One (as the Pope's plane is called) touches down about 3pm Chicago-time. That gesture alone places the visit by this guest in a category of its own.
The logistics of ensuring the Pope's safety and yet allowing his mobility are mind-boggling. I spoke with a staff member at the Catholic University of America (where 3 of the papal events will be held in Washington) who told me that the Secret Service has been working on their campus since December. As news reporters covering the events, we have all gone through checks by law enforcement and the credentialing process is extensive. In fact, each venue where the Pope will be present requires a separate credential. There is no "one-pass" to see the Pope.
The challenge is that this is a pastoral visit by Pope Benedict XVI, and as such, it's necessary that he be able to interact with people.
Journalists from across the country and around the world are here in Washington to cover these events. Villages of TV satellite trucks have formed at the major papal venues.
Catholics and non-Catholics alike are waiting to hear what message Pope Benedict wants to share with the United States. Our team will be here bringing you those words as they're spoken. Hope you'll continue to join us – here on the website – and on ABC 7 News.