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20140323nw207 webA huge crowd of pilgrims, along with dignitaries and religious figures, attend the funeral Mass of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 8, 2005. (CNS photo/Reuters)

ROME (CNS) – Rome city officials expect approximately 3 million people to gather April 27 for the canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II; that's way too many people to watch the event near the Vatican, so they suggest the alternative of watching by the Colosseum and Roman Forum.

Presenting the city's plans for dealing with pilgrims, Ignazio Marino, the mayor of Rome, and other officials met the press April 1.

Their plans include:

– Closing to vehicular traffic the Via dei Fori Imperiali, the boulevard that runs from the central Piazza Venezia, along the Roman Forum to the Colosseum. The street will be pedestrian-only from 7 p.m. April 18 through May 4. Three large video screens will be erected, so pilgrims and tourists can watch Pope Francis' Good Friday Way of the Cross service at the Colosseum April 18 as well as the canonizations nine days later.

– Video screens also will be set up in Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo and outside the Basilica of St. Mary Major for those wanting to watch the canoniza-tions away from the Vatican crowds.

– April 26-28, the city's sanita-tion department will have in place more than 1,000 chemical toilets near the Vatican, along Via dei Fori Imperiali and in other areas where large groups of people are expected to gather.

– Both of the city's subway lines will run nonstop from early April 26 until just after midnight April 28. The 64-bus line, which runs from the main train station to the Vatican, also will run 24 hours a day the weekend of the canonization. Shuttle buses will run from the tour-bus parking facilities to the Vatican.

– 2,630 volunteers from the civil protection department will be deployed April 26-27 to help with crowd control.

– 4 million bottles of water will be distributed free to pilgrims.

– 4,000 traffic police will be on duty for the canonization weekend, and some 6,400 Rome city police will pull extra shifts April 13-28 for the Holy Week, Easter and canonization events.

– What amounts to a field hospital will be set up near the Vatican, in addition to 13 first aid stations staffed by 81 first aid teams; 106 ambulances will be on standby. The city also is erecting five "mother's tents" for nursing or changing babies.

 

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.