Pontiff-Crazy at CUA

From reporter Susan Kinzie:

No class today at Catholic University: All the more time to blog about the Pope.
"The Pope at CUA," launched by staff at the student newspaper the Tower, has carried round-the-clock updates about the historic visit to the U.S. and the way their campus is going pontiff crazy.

Chase McAlpine, a junior who thought of the blog and stayed up all that night getting it going, said they're hoping to catch the excitement on campus and document the historic visit from a student perspective.

That means updates from the school's "Rock the Pope" events, a papal planning guide (with headings such as, "Your Ride," to explain parking and "Your Belly" to explain dining options at Catholic this week) and lots of photos of students lying on the floor drawing posters like, "CUA Loves Our Papa!" and "We love our German Shepherd!"

Students have stayed up for late-night candlelight rosaries, spelled out the letters to pope cheers with their arms, pulled on baseball jerseys that say "Benedict" and the number 16, and crowded into the lawn by the Basilica to catch a glimpse of him arriving.

"People have been excited for the past month," said McAlpine, who's not Catholic but was amazed to be so close to such an important figure when the Pope arrived yesterday. At one point he was just a few yards away, keeping his thumb on the shutter of his camera trying to take as many photos as possible for the blog. "Afterwards, going through the pictures, I was thinking to myself, 'I can't believe I was that close to him - he's hanging out with the President, and I'm right there.'"

Ryan Reilly, another editor at the paper, said he's most looking forward to "his arrival to the Pryz (the Pryzbyla Center, where the Pope will address Catholic educators tomorrow) - it's going to be crazy." Reilly is Catholic, so the visit is important to him on a religious level, he said, but he's also caught up in the sense of excitement on campus. "I'm sure when he arrives I sort of will get that butterflies in my stomach type of thing." All the TV trucks are just adding to it: "My Google alerts are going crazy!"

They've already posted photos of his arrival in Washington and the White House ceremony, and will be adding more updates and photos from students' cell phones, video and audio interviews all day and night, Reilly said. "I don't plan on sleeping for the next three days - we should be going full steam ahead."

By washingtonpost.com editors |  April 16, 2008; 4:44 PM ET
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Wow. I can't think of a time when there has been so much official fanfare, so much craziness, pomp and ceremony, FOR A RELIGIOUS FIGURE in this country-the Pope in huge rock star status! Gosh, if people could only read the Italian newspapers, you'd see how the Pope is regarded in Rome...and it is slightly different, to say the least! Let us just say, that the prestigious La Sapienza University held a demonstration, and there was HUGE flack about the Pope appearing in his traditional role as Archbishop of Rome, at the opening of the school season's ceremonies. A letter went to the Pope signed by a number of professors "disinviting" the Pope to give the opening of the school year's speech, in respect of the separation of religion and science. Rather than face a very vocal and concerted demonstration by the students at La Sapienza against his visit, the Pope said he would not show up in person, but would send his speech along to be given. It caused a great deal of discussion and finger pointing in Italy. I think the Pope was quite hurt by the first-ever reaction to his appearance there! Contrast that reaction to that of CU here in Washington! Very very interesting to see the enthusiasm for his appearance! You'd think people would never get to see the Pope, except, really, all you have to go is get on a plane and go to Rome, arrange to attend one of the group papal audiences that are held on Wednesday,(which you can do through tour agencies, the Vatican booking office or Santa Susanna, the American Church in Rome) and you can get fairly up close and personal-sheesh! Whats the big deal? I guess people don't think they can get on a plane to Rome and go to the Vatican or what?

Posted by: Farfalle | April 16, 2008 5:27 PM

Do you have the money to give me to "hop" on a plane to Rome? Most college students do not have this kind of money. I guess people across the country shouldn't get excited when the President comes to their town either. After all, they can just come to DC and see the motorcade go by.

Posted by: Proud CUA Alum | April 16, 2008 9:44 PM

Proud CUA Alum- Just how much money do you think it takes to go to Rome-CUA? That's stupid. People flying in from Vancouver, spending 2,000.00 on tickets? Why do that, when you go to Rome for far less than that, AND see the Pope AND the Vatican? Sheesh! In winter, you can go to Rome for around $600.00 RT (actually, I went to Italy last year for $460.00 to be exact)-and if you're a student, you can get all kinds of discounts, point being, trying to get some fleeting glimpse of the Pope in the masses of Washington does NOT have to be-you can get a far more authentic experience by going to Rome and arranging the tickets ahead of time-but I guess it's easier to be a sheep than a thinker, huh?

Posted by: Farfalle | April 17, 2008 9:57 AM

What a wonderful experience to see the Pope ,especially when we may never get another chance to view him,in light of St Malachy's Prophecy. I kope he resolves some problems in the short time he has here. He has a good sense of humor, the denigrating comments from anti-Catholic humbugs don't seem to bother him.God be with you Holy Father!

Posted by: lizard2 | April 17, 2008 1:57 PM

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