Saturday, 2:15 PM
I just got off the phone with my colleague Farah Stockman, who works in the Globe's Washington bureau, and she covered the pope's first popemobile ride in the US, which whisked Benedict XVI from the White House to the nunciature, where he is now having a birthday lunch with the American cardinals (except for Cardinal Bernard F. Law, the archbishop emeritus of Boston, who stayed in Rome...)
Farah watched from the corner of 17th and Pennsylvania, just by the White House, and said it was quite a scene. She describes a mix of devout Catholics, anti-Catholic protesters, and curious tourists, all thronged side-by-side trying to get a lunch hour glimpse of the man of the hour.
Some folks had gathered as early as 7 a.m. to get a good spot, while others just stopped by to see what the fuss was about. A group of Baptists held "Trust Jesus" signs as a young man shouted anti-Catholic vitriol through a megaphone; he eventually was encircled by members of the Neocatechumenal Way, a Catholic group that likes to sing and managed to drown him out. At a nearby park, encircled by police tape, were members of the ever-present Westboro Baptist Church, best-known for their anti-gay slogans and their protests at military funerals, but apparently also hostile to Catholics; they were surrounded by counter-protesters. And Farah's corner also featured a group of anti-celibacy protesters. Welcome to Washington!
At one point, a scream went up from the crowd, but it turned out just to be a group of bicycle cops; when the fleet of motorcycles started whizzing by, though, the crowd knew the moment was at hand. The popemobile, a white, bulletproof glass enclosed Mercedes-Benz, moved by at a good clip, but Benedict was clearly visible, smiling and waving. People in the crowd gasped and shouted; some hoisted kids into the air or stood on chairs at the nearby Au Bon Pain.
And then, as fast as he arrived, the pope was gone.
posted by Michael Paulson, Globe Staff
For all the blog posts on the papal visit, go here.
This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.