THEY say in America that when St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland they all went to New York and became cops. Snakes or not, the entire 26,000-man New York police department will be on duty throughout the Pope's
visit next week.
New Yorkers. billing the Pope's visit as "the first by any Pope to the Western hemisphere", are pulling out all the stops for his comfort and welcome.
The Catholic News, according to editor Bill Fanning, is planning a full-colour issue.
Today's front page will have Pope Paul's picture and a greeting from all New York City's Catholics.
Though city residents are still labouring with a water shortage— and can use the air-conditioning only six hours a day—there will be air-conditioning wherever Pope Paul goes.
As my plane landed at Kennedy Airport last week the BOAC stecardess suggested that the men "might like to remove jackets before leaving the aircraft". The temperature was tI7 degrees and the humidity not much less. But just to be on the safe side. Cardinal Spellman has ordered heating coils placed under the carpets at Yankee Stadium's open-air altar. The Pope will say a Mass there before 100,000 people.
THE FIGHT FOR TICKETS to the Mass started long ago. In an attempt at equitable distribution 100 tickets have been sent to each of the country's 212 bishops. Each New York parish gets 450 tickets. Who gets the remainder will be a fair indication of those rated high at the Madison Avenue residence of Cardinal Spellman.
Certainly 1,000 tickets have already been earmarked for Jewish laymen, and a further 1,000 for Protestants. The Jews are one of the guiding powers in. the city— Mayor Wagner, a Catholic, last week issued the following proclamation: "On the eve of the Jewish New Year it is appropriate for us all to pause and reflect on the great Judaic principle of faith and justice s‘hich formed the basis of Western civilisaCon".
But if the Jews are powerful. the Catholics are even more so. There are half as many Catholics in New York City as in the combined diocese of England and Wales.
Thirty-three per cent of all New Yorkers are Catholic. Yet the Archdiocese of New York is probably one of the most conservative in America.
Pope Paul will give his blessing to Americans from the modern
chapeul at the Vatican Pavilion of the New York World's Fair. This chapel is an architectural example of how New York and Brooklyn think. Despite the fact that the pavilion was designed when liturgical changes had become almost "old hat", the celebrant must still say Mass with his back to the people.
As modernistic, but more forward looking, is the church of the Holy Family near the United Nations building. Here the Pope will meet Jews, Protestants and Catholics representing groups which maintain contact with the United Nations.
The church is one of a complex of buildings which include the Catholic Centre for the United Nations and the National Catholic Welfare Conference for UN Affairs. It will he early evening by the time the Pope leaves there for a brief rest at Cardinal Spellman's residence.
THE MASS AT THE YANKEE STADIUM is at 8.30 p.m. and by the time the Pope visits the Vatican Pavilion at 10.30 p.m. on Monday it will already he 3.30 a.m. Tuesday in Rome. On returning to Rome—since it is reported he cannot sleep easily on planes -he will have been travelling and visiting for 29 hours.
Even the most experienced travellers report it takes them a week to recover from "jet lag", the juxtaposition of times caused by fast travelling. Undoubtedly the Pope's doctors will be at him to rest up on his return—but he will probably quickly resume his heavy workload.
New York will equally quickly return to normal. though that city's norms are scarcely comparable to most. The litter left by the hundreds and thousands—even millions—who will line the routes through Bronx, Queens and Manhattan, will alone take days to clear.
The policemen will get some time off and the World Fair exhibitors will get ready to close down this vast conglomeration of cornmerce and culture a runway's length from Kennedy Airport.
The Pope's visit will be a triumph for television in a city where most of the newspapers are on strike. In homes and bars the New Yorker--and even the Americans—will have little else to eatch all day in a city where there are practically round-the-clock films on television.
But they are inclined to take it in their stride, because the abnormal is all that makes the nee s as a rule.
There is so much crime in the city that offences have to be particularly savage or notorious to rate much newspaper play. There is at least one murder every night in the city, More than 400 cars are stolen
in the city each week. Even the most residential districts cannot be called "safe".
Urban renewal is fighting the slum problem in places, but much of tbe new apartment building is merely replacing an air-conditioned tenement for a rat-ridden one. Only the better off can afford the first, and the poor get crowded in tighter than ever. The city's schools are for the most part atrocious, and uew though many of them may be, nearly half the teachers have temporary certificates.
The United Nations representatives send their children to a school in a building which was condemned unfit by the New York Education Department. It is rundown, but the standard of education is extremely high--and French is the co-popular language.
Yet the UN people are a world apart from the city; it is another "group" in a metropolis which still maintains its ethnic and religious sections.
THE ITALIAN STREET FESTIVAL on the edge of Chinatown was held last weekend. Thousands of people marched this week in the Von Steubcn day parade for those of German descent.
Thc complexities of New Yorkers' origins provide in some measure the cause and answer to much of the city's ghetto mentality. Solely Irish Catholic Bronx and nearly-all Catholic Germantown. have little in common beyond their religion.
The intermingling St school and college, work and play, produces the breach fur all except the Negroes. Harlem is a running sore beyond the comprehension of a large proportion of the city's Catholics.
The fact that the Pope will drive through Harlem will not be significant to Catholics unless he makes it so. perhaps by stopping the car to speak to some Negroes. such a development could prove to be more important than h:s United Nations speech, both inside and outside America.
Cardinal Spellman has not been noted for leadership in the civil rights cause. But in this he can only he ranked with most of the American bishops. The notable exceptions are few and quite courageous. During the controversy over the Hochhuth play, labial Cardinal Spellman soundly condemned. the Cardinal did however make a good speech. and one with a friendly tone, to the Jews. Unfortunately this sot little play and his image remains set by its precedents.
Now becoming incueasingly enleehled, the Cardinal still keeps a busy schedule—including the opening of the Vatican Pavilion last year, and his visits to the council sessions.
Always written of as the firm favourite of Pope Pius XII. he has handed over much of his Vatican influence to others with the changes of Popes. Hocever. he
continues to hold quite a lot of sway and controls, though less noisily, a purse which probably outshines that of Cardinal Cushing.
UNDOUBTEDLY THE VISIT of Pope Paul to New York will be one of the climaxes of the Cardinal's life. But he was reared in a -Roman Holy Office far different from that of Pope Paul and is very much a man of the 19th century Church. That world started to crumble with the advent of Pope John.
God willing. the Cardinal will see his 50 years as a priest in May next year and already the jubilee fund has collected thousands of dollars. The massive collection is psychologically timed for the Sunday after the Pope's visit and the millions likely to be raised stagger the imagination.
The money will go towards works of charity and to refurbish "the physical plant of the archdiocese".
New Yorkers are acutely conscious of the physical plant, both archcliocesan and secular, and buildings go up on the same spots nearly every generation or so. .And if, too, there is a centre of materialism and concern for worldly values it is just up the road from Cardinal Spellman's residence on Madison Avenue.
For Madison Avenue represents a set of values incompatible with much of the spirit of the Church, and even of the United Nations. Maybe Pope Paul, in his visit and his speech, can sell peace and brotherly love even more effectively than the Mecca of materialism just a few blocks away.
The Pope. during his visit, will certainly have top ratings.