As part of our ongoing efforts to gracefully point readers toward the work of former GetReligionistas, a task that we do with great enthusiasm, let me note that the religion-beat specialists at The Washington Post held an online forum today in which they took questions from readers about the upcoming Acela zone events involving Pope Francis.
One of the two, of course, is Sarah Pulliam Bailey, who was a scribe at this website for several years. Trivia note: Who can name the previous member of her family to write for GetReligion?
The long and the short of it is that Bailey and veteran religion-beat specialist Michelle Boorstein cannot (a) help readers sneak into the White House reception or (b) avoid the hassles of what is sure to be an amazingly complex several days in the already stressed mass-transit system of Washington, D.C.
However, I thought that GetReligion readers might want to know if participants in the Post forum asked some of the same questions that folks who frequent this site might want to have seen asked. So click here and check it out.
Meanwhile, here are a few sample questions:
Q: This Visit Compared To Other U.S. Visits
How does this visit by Pope Francis compare to similar visits to the U.S. by other Popes? Also, how does the presence of social media and cable news change how the visit is covered?
A: Michelle Boorstein
There haven't been that many -- the last one was Pope Benedict in 2008. I covered that trip and it feels like another era in a sense. Francis is far more popular (especially with non-Catholics) and this media age has exploded the interest. The first pope to come to the US stayed here for only 24 hours. Globe-trotting popes are new in history. Here's a good backgrounder..
-- SEP 21, 2015 12:01 EDT
I have no idea precisely how I would have handled this next one.
Theological? I guess the reader was saying that God should be able to handle security for someone who is as holy as the pope? I am sure that Pope Francis would find that thinking, uh, less than adequate.
Q: Theological rationale for security
Serious question: why does the Pope require security?
A: Sarah Pulliam Bailey
Threats to popes are not theoretical. Pope John Paul II was shot in 1981 and Pope Paul VI was stabbed in the Philippines. The U.S. would not want something to happen to the pope, a head of state, while he is here. Here's a story from our reporters on how it's the largest security operation in U.S.
-- SEP 21, 2015 12:03 EDT
And looking down the road, one reader was already thinking about the next occupant of the Throne of St. Peter.
Q: the next pope
I am refreshed by this pope's new attitudes on many important issues. How much of what he does now can just be reversed by the next pope?
A: Michelle Boorstein
My sense is that much of the impact of Pope Francis has been by tone so far, more than "change" in some concrete sense. He has shaken up the bureaucracy of the Vatican, which is more of a CEO-like thing; i'd imagine the next pope could reshuffle that. He has created a new Vatican body where complaints of bishops covering up sex abuse can be sent -- another bureaucratic (not theological) change that someone else could undo, though it seems unlikely. The big thing most people seem to wonder is: Will he oversee the significant change of how people get annulments? How GLBT people are treated in parish life? Next month is the real action -- he is convening a big meeting of top bishops from around the world to open up "ways" they might address topics like the place of divorced Catholics. Any change to church practice would have to come through a major meeting like this, and it seems unlikely (to this religion reporter) that an institution that moves slowly, over centuries, would undo a change quickly.
-- SEP 21, 2015 12:09 EDT
Read it all, folks.