Pope Time (like Hammer Time, but with a different costume)
The Pope’s in town this weekend. He is staying just a few blocks from me, which I think is a bad idea, because that puts him in the Polygon of Destruction. What is the Polygon of Destruction? Let me explain.
Since I’ve lived in this area, a plane has flowing into a building, a crane has collapsed, a steam pipe has exploded, and there have been numerous bus accidents and building fires. I get pages about big jobs, so I do know that these things are happening more often in my neighborhood than, say, the other side of the island. But something tells me that didn’t factor into their planning for housing.
Because of security, the police helicopter hovers over the “Papal Residence” when he’s leaving and coming home. So a few times a day I’m reminded that the Pope is on the move. Also? Work is sending mildly entertaining (in their superfluousness) emails every time the man arrives, leaves, or is en route to a location.
The emails did come in handy this afternoon. On my way to the park to enjoy the ridiculously wonderful weather, I saw the barricades along 5th avenue. I stopped and waited (for about an hour – yikes) and actually got to see, up close, the Pope, in the Pope Mobile. It was definitely a unique experience.
Fun fact! When the Pope came from JFK to Lower Manhattan via helicopter, there were two Marine Corps helicopters right behind. The first? Is to rescue the Pope if the helicopter goes down. The men and women on that helicopter are only allowed to go in and get the Pope out. The second is to come in after the Pope is rescued to try to rescue the rest of the crew. Huh. Didn’t know.
I do have a couple of issues with the visit. The first is the cost. I completely understand the need for security – this is a man who is an icon for many people, and who holds such importance for them. He is a target. I get it. But who pays for this? The City is facing a serious financial crisis, and is in the midst of a hiring freeze. If things don’t get better soon, people may actually end up being laid off. The overtime alone for the police for this event is easily enough to keep some people employed. I understand the need to weigh the positives and negatives, but it will be a shame for those who lose their jobs, possibly because money that would have been able to keep them employed was spent providing security for the Pope.
The other issue is that the man is treated like a rock star. People are selling tee shirts and all sorts of Pope items. Isn’t that a pretty severe form of idolatry? I’m not Catholic, so I’m not speaking from a place that really understands what the Pope means for these people, but as someone with more than a cursory understanding of Christianity in general, it seems like all of this pomp and circumstance is a bit ironic.