A video treasury: #PopeinUS

I’m about to take you on a retrospective journey of what it was like to be a member of the media a year ago while covering Pope Francis’ visit to the United States.

This entry will be complete with videos Catholic News Service produced chronicling the very popular pope’s trip to give you an idea of the impact he made on the people in his country along the way, beginning with this one as he took his first steps onto U.S. soil.

A year ago today I was in Philadelphia during the final days of the pope’s U.S. journey. I remember reflecting on the enormous number of details required to get us to this point in our coverage, from credentialing journalists, photographers and videographers for spots in the events of the pontiff’s grueling agenda in Washington, New York and Philadelphia, to figuring out how we were going to best tell this story to the millions of people following the trek.

My role was to coordinate CNS’s video coverage of the U.S. papal trip. My role, for the most part, kept me in the media centers of each city while our determined video journalists went out and found some spectacular visual stories to share with our audience.

Some of these videos told stories concerning the official events on the agenda, like the pope’s Sept. 23 visit to the White House,

while others captured how the pope’s presence impacted people on the street who braved massive crowds to catch a glimpse of the country’s celebrated guest of honor.

When the pope made his way to New York he was greeted by young musicians who understood the great honor bestowed on them

and his solemn prayer at ground zero, the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, made people from all backgrounds pause.

The pope melted the hearts of people around the world when he visited children at a Harlem school

and the people waiting to see the pope mobile drive through Central Park

couldn’t help expressing their enthusiasm.

One of our most viewed videos during the U.S. papal trip came while he was in Philadelphia visiting prison inmates.

Two of the most touching videos we produced during that trip also came during Pope Francis’s time in the city of brotherly love, one about an Oregon couple who made great sacrifices to bring their five children cross-country to see the Holy Father

and the other showcased the impact the pontiff’s presence at Independence Hall had on a Latino immigrant living in the U.S.

 

As the pope was spending his last day in the U.S., a couple of our video journalists took an opportunity to find out how local Philadelphians were celebrating the historic papal trip.

 

By the time the pope’s plane took off for Rome, the CNS journalists were exhausted, but it was an assignment that energized us and reminded us how privileged we are to work in this profession.

Here’s a link to see all of the English-speaking videos CNS produced during the U.S. papal trip. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcRSxXfDzTxZ-y3oJEOf6kesOhhPJdYQT

 

Poles can’t help comparing Pope Francis to their favorite son

Pope Francis prays in the chapel of the Black Madonna at the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, Poland, July 28. (CNS photo/Grzegorz Galazka, pool)

Pope Francis prays in the chapel of the Black Madonna at the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, Poland, July 28. (CNS photo/Grzegorz Galazka, pool)

By Jonathan Luxmoore

CZESTOCHOWA, Poland — Jurek Najgebauer attended Pope Francis’ Mass at the Jasna Gora national monastery. Although police said about 200,000 people attended the Mass, Najgebauer said there were far fewer than when St. John Paul II was there, when there was “no spare place anywhere.”

He said Poles would appreciate Pope Francis’ appeal to humility and simplicity, and against being “attracted by power, by grandeur, by appearances.” However, he also said that some might be offended that the Argentine pope had chosen to stand, rather than kneel, before the fabled Black Madonna icon in Jasna Gora’s Lady Chapel July 28.

“We respect Pope Francis, but he’ll always be a guest here, and there can be no comparison with John Paul II, who was Polish in blood and bone and had a divine gift, as head of the church, in being able to speak directly to each of us.”

Grazyna Swierczewska, a Catholic from Warsaw, said she also believed Pope Francis was being well received in Poland and had chosen his words well “at a time when there’s so much division and aggressiveness, lack of love and faith.”

However, she added that reactions to the pope were a lot less enthusiastic than under his Polish predecessor, who had been able to “speak directly to the nation.”

Pope John Paul II prays in front of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland in this 1999 photo. (CNS photo courtesy Pope John Paul II Cultural Center)

Pope John Paul II prays in front of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland in this 1999 photo. (CNS photo courtesy Pope John Paul II Cultural Center)

“Of course, we’re listening and considering what he says in our own way — but when John Paul II preached, he caught us with every word,” said Swierczewska, who left the Polish capital at 4 a.m. to reach Jasna Gora.

“We’re still here, in this special place for Poles. But the atmosphere is clearly quite different now.”

A Catholic priest from Belarus, who was in Czestochowa during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit in May 2006, said he also thought the pontiff’s homily had been well received.

“The pope understands people here because he understands the church,” said Father Pawel Wikary, who came with a large group of Belarusian Catholics. “People in our region know what it means to be considered small and humble alongside the world’s big powers. So his carefully appeal to unity and identity will suit people well.”

However, recently retired Auxiliary Bishop Antoni Dlugosz of Czestochowa said he believed Francis had a “deep understanding of popular feelings,” as a Jesuit and former parish priest.

He added that prayers recited at the Mass for Poland, on the 1050th anniversary of its Christian conversion, had been “well expressed and welcomed.”

“Coming from Buenos Aires, he knows about wealth and poverty and is fearless in asserting the need for divine mercy, whatever the media may say,” Bishop Dlugosz said. “The pope’s words were concrete and challenging, and I think he’s been well prepared when it come to the situation in Poland and the rest of Europe.”

‘People’s Pope’ won’t see many faithful from Philly stage

By Joyce Duriga

PHILADELPHIA — The “People’s Pope” won’t be able to see many people from the stage when he attends the Festival of Families Saturday and celebrates Mass Sunday on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in downtown Philadelphia.

sideviewofstageandwhitechairsusethisone

Side view of stage and white chairs. (Photo by Joyce Duriga)

More than 1.5 million people are expected to attend the events, which mark the official end of the World Meeting of Families, but because of obstructed viewing only about 2,000 or so will be able to actually see the stage from where they are sitting. Everyone else will view the events on Jumbotrons, and that includes those with coveted tickets.

The lucky people sitting in the white, wooden chairs in the area in front of the stage will have a clear view of the stage, as will the media on risers behind them. After that only the top of the stage is viewable from most of the parkway.

The stage is set up between Eakins Oval and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Beautiful trees line the parkway from the oval to 20th Street where the ticketed area ends but those trees also make for limiting viewing.

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View of media risers. (Photo by Joyce Duriga)

Organizers assure everyone they will be able to view the events on many Jumbotrons set up along the 1.1 mile-area set up for the events. But people hoping for unobstructed viewing like that at the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 or Toronto in 2002 will be disappointed.

Those in the non-ticketed areas will be able to see the top of the stage as well but won’t be able to see much more except on the Jumbotrons. The non-ticketed viewing areas are also limited to the sides of the parkway — like it was for Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1979 — so the popemobile can make its way through the parkway for the parade.

People coming to Philadelphia from out of town and from the city itself hoping to see Pope Francis in the flesh will be able to see him during a parade up the parkway on each day.

Other than that, well, there are always the Jumbotrons.

View from 20th Street. (Photo by Joyce Duriga)

View from 20th Street. (Photo by Joyce Duriga)

After hours of waiting, New Yorkers see pope in Central Park

Pope Francis rides in a motorcade in New York's Central Park Sept. 25. (CNS photo/Richard Drew, pool)

Pope Francis rides in a motorcade in New York’s Central Park Sept. 25. (CNS photo/Richard Drew, pool)

By Seth T. Gonzales

NEW YORK — It was a festive atmosphere in Central Park as 80,000 ticketed people lined police barricades to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis Sept. 25.

After visiting with third- and fourth-grade students at Our Lady of Angels Catholic School in Harlem, the pontiff made his way through Central Park en route to Mass at Madison Square Garden.

Crowds wait for Pope Francis’ motorcade to appear while a New York City police officer patrols the area on Sept. 25. Ticket-holders stood for hours just to get a glimpse of the pontiff as he made his way towards Madison Square Garden. (CNS photo/Seth Gonzales)

Crowds wait for Pope Francis’ motorcade to appear while a New York City police officer patrols the area on Sept. 25. Ticket-holders stood for hours just to get a glimpse of the pontiff as he made his way towards Madison Square Garden. (CNS photo/Seth Gonzales)

According to news reports, security officials had closed more than 30 blocks along Central Park West at 5 a.m. on Friday. Vendors sold t-shirts, buttons and miniature Vatican flags as those with tickets lined up outside the park and were admitted only after being screened.

According to the Central Park Conservancy’s Twitter account, they had until 3 p.m. to get inside before the gates were closed.

Inside, people clapped, chanted and sang as they eagerly awaited the pontiff.

As the wait continued, some began suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion as paramedics began removing people from the park.

At around 5 p.m., Pope Francis entered his popemobile and began his way through Central Park amid a throng of cheers, flags and iPhones.

Brooklyn resident Grace Cort recently had both of her knees replaced, but still managed to stand for hours waiting for the pontiff. By the time he arrived and passed by her, she was overwhelmed with tears.

“I’m not Catholic, but I’m Christian and I feel that this pope is the embodiment of Christ,” Cort said. “He’s humble and he speaks of all that the world needs right now.”

Kimberly Pratt and her husband, Tim, said seeing the pope was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them.

“I’m a teacher at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic School,” Kimberly said. “Being able to be here with this pope at this time where we’re at is wonderful. He’s an inspiration.”

Follow Gonzales on Twitter: @TexasCatholic

New York City police officers direct ticket-holders for the papal motorcade to the entrance of Central Park on Sept. 25. (CNS photo/Seth Gonzales)

New York City police officers direct ticket-holders for the papal motorcade to the entrance of Central Park on Sept. 25. (CNS photo/Seth Gonzales)

Security in Philadelphia extremely tight in advance of pope’s Saturday arrival

Philadelphia police officers get instructions outside of City Hall as a banner welcomes Pope Francis to the city of brotherly love. (CNS/Dennis Sadowski)

Philadelphia police officers get instructions outside of City Hall as a banner welcomes Pope Francis to the city of brotherly love. (CNS/Dennis Sadowski)

PHILADELPHIA — Pope Francis does not arrive until tomorrow and the center city is in near lockdown.

Parts of normally bustling Market and Broad streets — main thoroughfares that converge at City Hall — were absent of vehicular traffic this morning other than an occasional security vehicle or motorcycle police patrols.

Concrete and steel barricades lined streets. Pedestrians had to wind through the barricades at intersections.

Traffic was limited to side streets, blocks from the main drags. Many businesses and offices were closed. Some had intended to be open, but power was out in some locales, forcing them to close anyway.

It was unknown if the power outage was planned or an accident.

Pedestrians were taking it in stride, but many seemed to be from the World Meeting of Families that was winding down at the Philadelphia Convention Center. The closed streets did not seem to bother the 150 people waiting in line outside of St. John the Evangelist Church, where the relics of St. Maria Goretti were on display.

A 30-minute walk around the center city revealed that along with dozens of Philadelphia Police officers, uniformed personnel from Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the fatigue-clad U.S. Customs and Border Protection were patrolling the streets.

If I had not known that I was in Philadelphia to cover the pope’s visit, I would have thought I was in a country that had undergone a military coup. The security presence was far stronger than any I had seen anywhere in the world, including countries whose leader kept a tight grasp on the population.

In contrast, security in Washington, where I had covered papal events Sept. 23-24, posed minor inconveniences. Except for security checkpoints, the presence of law enforcement was minimal. Street closures were kept to those essential to papal travels and occurred only hours before Pope Francis was to appear.

True, Washington regularly deals with the visit of world leaders, but I wonder if what I’m seeing in Philadelphia this weekend is a bit of overkill, especially because the pope isn’t even in town yet.

Covering a pope: You can’t make this up

Pope John Paul II, now a saint, celebrated Mass outdoors with Canada's First Nations in September 1987. (CNS photo/Brad Reynolds, S.J.)

Pope John Paul II, now a saint, celebrated Mass outdoors with Canada’s First Nations in September 1987. (CNS photo/Brad Reynolds, S.J.)

By Barb Fraze, international editor

First in a series

If a Hollywood producer had written a script, movie-goers would have said, “That would never happen.”

Yet what I witnessed 350 miles south of the Arctic Circle could have been an early sign that Pope John Paul II was special and might one day be a saint.

Catholic News Service Rome bureau staffers always get to cover papal trips, yet, as Pope Francis’ visit approached, we in Washington began thinking about our favorite moments of when we got to cover popes. No one in our newsroom is a papal rookie, so we agreed to share some of our stories.

Pope John Paul had been scheduled to visit Canada’s First Nations in 1984, during a multi-city trip to Canada, but he had to cancel because of fog. The Polish pope promised he would return, so he tacked on a visit at the end of his 1987 trip to the United States.

Pope John Paul II's altar platform included a giant teepee. (CNS photo/Brad Reynolds, S.J.)

Pope John Paul II’s altar platform included a giant teepee. (CNS photo/Brad Reynolds, S.J.)

Fort Simpson is a remote town in the Northwest Territories, and the papal Mass site was outdoors, at the intersection of the Mackenzie and Liard rivers. Most journalists flew in by plane — the “bigger plane” added from Yellowknife was a DC-3 — but First Nations members arrived by helicopter and canoe. The very few hotel rooms in the city were taken by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., so international journalists bunked in the ranger barracks and walked the mile along the river to the Mass site.

On the morning of the pope’s scheduled arrival, I could sense angst: Once again, it was rainy and foggy. We waited in the press tent near the altar platform with the teepee, wondering if, once again, the visit would be canceled. About the time Pope John Paul’s plane was scheduled to land, right on cue, the rain stopped. And, when his car pulled up to the Mass site — I kid you not — the clouds parted and a rainbow appeared in the sky.

Pope John Paul met with the First Nations leaders, who then met with press while the pope celebrated Mass laden with native American symbolism. The people were happy — they had planned and waited and hoped for years.

And, after several nights of watching, we journalists finally got to witness the spectacle of the Northern Lights — possibly another little miracle from the magnetic Pole who had visited that day.

– – –

Follow Barb Fraze on Twitter: @BFraze.

El papa Francisco visitará Cuba antes de comenzar su visita a Estados Unidos

Una monja mueve la bandera del Vaticano mientras asiste a la misa de Papa Juan Pablo II en La Habana el 25 de enero de 1998. El Vaticano confirmó que Papa Francisco visitará Cuba en septiembre. (CNS/Alyssa Banta)

Una monja mueve la bandera del Vaticano mientras asiste a la misa de Papa Juan Pablo II en La Habana el 25 de enero de 1998. El Vaticano confirmó que Papa Francisco visitará Cuba en septiembre. (CNS/Alyssa Banta)

CIUDAD DEL VATICANO (CNS) — El sacerdote jesuita Federico Lombardi, portavoz del Vaticano, dijo a reporteros el 22 de abril que el papa ha “recibido y aceptado la invitación de las autoridades civiles y los obispos de Cuba” y ha decidido visitar la isla antes de ir a los Estados Unidos.

El papa está programado, tentativamente, para llegar a Estados Unidos tarde el 22 de septiembre a Washington y visitará Washington, Nueva York y Filadelfia del 23 a 27 de septiembre. Detalles, como el itinerario y fechas de el viaje del pontífice a Cuba, se darán a conocer más tarde, dijo el padre Lombardi.

En 1998, no mucho después de que llegó a ser arzobispo de Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio publicó un folleto que se centró en los discursos y homilías que Santo Juan Pablo II hizo durante su histórica visita a Cuba unos meses antes. En el documento hizo dos puntos importantes: el diálogo no es sólo posible, pero es necesario; y, un diálogo sincero y honesto beneficiaría tanto a los Estados Unidos como a Cuba.

Al mismo tiempo, el arzobispo Bergoglio repetidamente abogó por la plena libertad de la iglesia católica en Cuba a predicar el Evangelio y ministrar a los pobres y denunció sistemas ideológicos que ofenden la dignidad trascendente de la persona humana.

Durante su visita en el 2012 a Cuba, el papa Benedicto XVI hizo los mismos puntos. Una vez que regresó a Roma, dijo que había ido a mostrar su apoyo a la misión de la iglesia cubana de “proclamar el Evangelio con alegría a pesar de la falta de medios y de las dificultades que aún quedan por superar, para que la religión pueda realizar su servicio educativo y espiritual en el ámbito público”.