The calm before the storm

VATICAN CITY — With the exception of the long line of media-folk waiting to pick up their credentials for the papal flight to the United States, the Vatican press office was eerily quiet today. Sure, several of the reporters had to run to pick up their papal flight tickets and then start covering the results of the Italian elections (vote-counting began when the polls closed at 3 p.m.).

But the calm also reflected the fact that Pope Benedict XVI apparently was resting up.

The pope’s schedule, usually posted daily in the Vatican press office, went up Saturday. It said: Saturday, no private audiences. Sunday, “Regina Coeli” at noon. Monday, no private audiences.

The Vatican’s daily press bulletin did come out, though. Saturday there was a papal message to a meeting sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and brief tidbits on nine papal nominations and appointments. Sunday there was the text of the pope’s remarks to people gathered for the “Regina Coeli” prayer. Today brought news of a new bishop in Lucon, France, and of an April 16-20 meeting in Nairobi sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The light papal workload gave reporters a chance to start packing their equipment, but mainly to start trying to get a general idea of where they will need to be and when.

The U.S. bishops’ conference and papal trip organizers in Washington and New York told U.S.-based reporters what events they managed to get passes to March 26.

But the reporters, photographers and correspondents on the papal flight did not know until they picked up their credentials and their minutely detailed workbooks this morning. (The booklets include what time breakfast will be served in the morning; when speeches will be distributed; when they have to meet to get their passes to individual events; when their buses depart; and when they have to check in for the flights to New York and back to Rome.)


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