Papal Visitor

Recently I was reading about the arrival of the pope in New York City. He will be in town for the weekend, and as you might imagine, security will be tight. There were a few things that bothered me.

Am I the only one whose eyebrows raised at the discovery that the pope’s private jet is named “Shepherd One”?

On the surface it’s a humble title — shepherd — and so it’s a little surprising that such a humble title is painted on a multi-million dollar jet plane. On the other hand, it’s to be expected, at least to me, since I see the Catholic Church as an extraordinarily successful business. (The shepherding business must be doing pretty good.) A very wealthy ongoing concern, with a multi-billion dollar real estate portfolio and other ancient and priceless assets. Not to mention that the Catholic Church is a thousand year old brand. And we all know that brand names carry values; when a firm is sold, right there on the balance sheet is the estimated value of the company’s name. The pope, as the head of the Catholic Church, is exactly like the head of a very big company, and so deserves to travel in first-class style.

On Sunday the pope will celebrate mass at Yankee Stadium. Yankee Stadium?!?  As a future Boston resident and Red Sox fan, I hope this isn’t evidence that the pope is a Yankee fan…

Another thing that caught my attention was the note that the pope will take part in a “youth event” on Saturday evening. Given the history of Catholic priests and altar boys, isn’t this a little like throwing gasoline at a fire?

On a lighter note, a contingent of the pope’s ancient and prestigious Swiss Guard will be on hand to assist in the important job of keeping the pope safe. This honor guard, approximately 450 years old, wears colorful outfits similar to those worn by court jesters, and carry halberds. My question is: will these guys be wearing their traditional garb and be armed with seven hundred-year-old weapons in New York City?

It seems like American taxpayers are shelling out a lot of money to protect his Holiness, when a few guys in funny outfits and long poles should be able to handle anything unexpected.


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