If you can't bring the pope to Harvard, bring Harvard to the pope.
President Bok apparently has tried to do just that. He is giving the afternoon of October 1 off to Harvard employees who want to hear Pope John Paul II celebrate Mass on Boston Common. Moreover, a few courses have rescheduled their October 1 classes because the pope's visit and Yom Kippur fall on the same day.
Bok and the Divinity School have tried to bring the pope to Harvard. Beginning last spring, they sent letters to the pope through the archdiocese of Boston asking him to speak at Harvard. But as George E. Rupp, dean of the Div School, pointed out, Harvard--founded as a Protestant college--has little claim on the pope.
But even though Harvard will not host the pope, Boston will. Ever since the Vatican announced this summer that the pope would visit six American cities, Boston officials have been tearing their hair out.
For one thing, the city has been taking a lot of flack from Protestant groups and the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union for offering to finance even part of the Pope's multi-million dollar visit. The groups insisted that the city not pay for the papal Mass on Boston Common. The City Council, however, granted $750,000 for the Pontiff's overnight stay.
Secondly, the city has to be sure the pope is adequately protected. Thousands of security officers--from National Guardsmen to Secret Service--will line his motorcade and some will guard even the elevator he rides to a specially constructed platform on the common.
And in case John Paul II gets sick, his personal physician will accompany him on the tour. A team of paramedics and a doctor will join his motorcade, and three hospitals will have volunteer staffs ready to take care of him. For the expected crowd of 500,000, the city hospitals and American Red Cross will man nine first-aid stations on the Common, and 34 extra ambulances will be ready for duty.
Preparing for the papal visit may be a headache to some Boston officials, but it's one they hardly mind. After all, how often does a pope stop in for the evening?
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