Friday, November 16, 2007

The Pope's visit to CUA: lettter from CUA president

A resident of the house was kind enough to leave a printout of this letter from the President of the Catholic University of America to the University community in regards to the Holy Father's visit. I'm reproducing it in full here (emphases added).

With the exciting news of Pope Benedict XVI's planned visit to The Catholic University of America on April 17, 2008, i want to share some information with you as we anticipate his arrival. This extraordinary and historic papal visit will bring with it opportunities and challenges, both of which will require generosity, patience and cooperation on the part of all of us at CUA.

The University will host the presidents of Catholic universities and colleges in the United States and one (1) representative, specifically the superintendent or equivalent official of Catholic schools, from every American diocese or archdiocese for the Holy Father's visit to CUA. They will constitute the "invitation only" audience along with the papal entourage and others already identified and approved by the Vatican. The Pope will speak in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center on the topic of Catholic education in the United States. His on-campus visit will last about one hour. This is not merely a visit to CUA. It is an occasion and platform for the Pope to make a major address to the Church in the United States. This is a tremendous honor and privilege for our pontifical university.

The Vatican has indicated there will be no other speeches on campus and that there will be no private audiences or meetings while the Holy Father is here. He will greet the campus community gathered for his arrival and departure as he has done elsewhere when he travels and as is his custom following the Wednesday audience at St. Peter's.

Earlier the same day, the Pope will celebrate Mass at the new baseball stadium in downtown Washington, D.C. Our committee planning the papal visit to the United States has not determined how entrance to the stadium will be coordinated. Once that determination is made, I will communicated this information to the campus community and the university can then make plans for transportation to and from the Mass. It may very well be that the Metro will be the best means.

A few weeks ago, I indicated well in advance that the university would celebrate Founders Day on April 17, 2008, as a university holiday. Although I could not say so at the time, the papal visit was the reason for closing the university, except for essential services. It is very important to realize that all members of the university community -- students, faculty, staff and administration -- understand that security for this visit will be very tight and that there will be restricted access to the campus on April 17. No other on-campus events should be planned or contemplated. It may very well be that we will not be able to park cars on campus that day and that, apart from invited guests, credentialed media and current members of the university community, visitors will not be provided access to the campus until after the Holy Father's departure.

I mention these things now so that people on campus are prepared and not surprised or disappointed. I also want to make sure that our expectations of what will or will not be possible when the Pope visits are realistic. This is a great and historic occasion for the university, one which we should celebrate with joy and enthusiasm. At the same time, we need to be aware that the Vatican, the United States Secret Service, the Metropolitan Police Department and our own Department of Public Safety have their own work to do whenever such a visit occurs and we must cooperate with them.

At the request of the papal nuncio, I serve on the committee planning the Pope's entire United States visit. I have also established a university committee to work with me on all the details of the papal visit to campus. CUA will create a Web site for information and updates. Apart from all of this, I have no further information to provide at this time. I will keep you informed and updated as we plan for this great day.

Thank you very much,
Sincerely yours in Christ,

Very Rev. David M O'Connell, C.M.

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