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Waiting for the Pope

Papal bumper stickers and pins reading “I Love Pope John Paul II” are the hottest items in town, and one local bar has invited papal enthusiasts to pose with a life-size cardboard cut-out picture of the Pontiff as Miami geared up for his first visit to this south Florida city on Thursday and Friday.

Virtually all major thoroughfares and arteries to downtown Miami will be closed Thursday and Friday for crowd control and security during the Pope’s two-day visit which includes a meeting with some 200 Jewish leaders Friday morning.

Security is extremely tight in every venue the Pope will visit on his U.S. trip. But extraordinary security measures are planned in Miami for the Pope’s meeting with President Reagan. Both the Pope and Reagan have been shot in assassination attempts. Reagan will greet the Pope at the airport when he arrives by jet Thursday at about 2 p.m.

But not only security will be heavy for the papal visit. Some 4,000 reporters have received credentials for the Pope’s visit in Miami and the major networks will carry live coverage of most or all of the events. For the Pope’s entire U.S. visit, about 20,000 reporters have requested credentials.

This is Pope John Paul It’s first visit to Miami or the southeastern United States, presumably because the Miami Catholic community has grown significantly with the influx of Cuban and Latin American refugees. The Pope has strong ties to Latin American Catholics, a more conservative community than the largely liberal American Catholic population.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE MIAMI VISIT

Among the highlights of the visit to Miami are: a meeting with President Reagan at Vizaya, an old Italian mansion with breathtaking gardens and fountains, at which the two are expected to discuss U.S. foreign policy and disarmament; several public masses; and a meeting with 196 Jewish leaders Friday at the Miami Fine Arts Center where the Pope will also view an exhibit of Judaica from the Vatican.

The Church in Miami has called on local Catholics to get out to see the Pope in person instead of simply viewing the visit on network television. One of the places people will have an opportunity to see the Pope is at the papal parade Thursday at 7:15 p.m. where police estimate a crowd of 250,000 will turn out. The Pope will ride in his popemobile, a Mercedes with a special bullet-proof bubble top, so the Pope can see and be seen.

(Two popemobiles have been brought over for the papal visit so that one can await him in every city. The secret service in Miami will not permit the press or even organizers of the papal visit to view the popemobile in advance and will not disclose its location.)

The popemobile will move slowly down Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami because the Pope wants to see the faces in the crowd, organizers said.

The meeting with American Jewish leaders Friday morning is also a first–the first time a Pope has met with Jews in America. The meeting will consist of an address by Rabbi Gilbert Klaperman, president of the Synagogue Council of America, followed by a papal response.

Representatives of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and American rabbinical groups will be present at the meeting.

The exchange between the Pope and Jews will begin with the Pope’s tour of the Judaic exhibit from the Vatican.

An even larger contingent of about 500 Jewish representatives will attend a reception and dinner Thursday night at the Omni Hotel with Johannes Cardinal Willebrands, president of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and high-ranking Vatican officials and American Catholic leaders.

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