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Indefinite Outline for Papal Visit to U.S. Next Year Begins to Take Shape

August 13, 1986|RUSSELL CHANDLER | Times Religion Writer

An outline for Pope John Paul II's trip next year to the United States--including California--is taking shape, but rumors and speculation are more abundant than definite information and the Vatican will not approve any final schedule until late next month at the earliest, sources said this week.

The 8-to-10-day trip in mid-September of 1987 is likely to include stops in Miami; Columbia, S.C.; New Orleans; San Antonio, Tex.; Phoenix; Los Angeles; the Salinas-Monterey area, and San Francisco, said Russell Shaw, press spokesman for the U.S. Catholic bishops.

"But the Vatican people--and the Pope himself--have the final say," Shaw added.

Shaw said he and two others on the U.S. planning committee will meet Vatican planners late next month in Rome and present a "pretty detailed schedule. . . . We hope they will like it and say 'that's what the Pope will do,' but he may revise it."

L.A. Plans Revised

Tentative plans for the Los Angeles-area leg of the trip have already been revised, and spokesmen for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles were mum on details.

Archbishop Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles, who was unavailable for comment Tuesday, said earlier that the Southern California visit will have twin themes: immigrants and refugees, and communications.

There has been speculation that the Pope will celebrate Mass in a large outdoor arena such as Dodger Stadium, the Coliseum, Anaheim Stadium or the Rose Bowl.

Pasadena City Director Bill Thompson said Tuesday that local officials, approached about the availability of the Rose Bowl for a papal Mass on Sept. 15 or 16, 1987, had initially resisted the idea because they feared the crowds might damage the turf for UCLA football games.

But Thompson said he and another city director, Rick Cole, thought the obstacle could be overcome if the stadium seating--but not the field--was used.

"We would feel very honored to have the Pope come to Pasadena, and it's still very much in our discussions," Thompson said.

Another spot often mentioned for a papal Mass because of its capacity to hold up to 400,000 people is the US Festival rock concert site at Glen Helen Regional Park. The site is 65 miles east of Los Angeles near Devore, in San Bernardino County.

"We don't have any confirmation on those plans so we're not ready to talk to the press," said Sister Mary Brigid, an administrative assistant to Mahony. "We're just awaiting news on what the final itinerary will be. It's out of our hands."

Until recently, church officials had expected the Pope to meet for about 36 hours with the nation's 300 Catholic bishops at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo.

But Shaw said that in June, Vatican officials shortened the meeting to a half-day affair because of the crowded schedule during the cross-country tour.

Convening at St. John's in Ventura County would require planners to transport about 700 people--the bishops, 325 members of the press, the Pope's personal staff of 30 and an unspecified number of Secret Service agents over the 47 miles from downtown Los Angeles to Camarillo.

Short Time Period

"Camarillo was considered early in the process," Shaw said. "But if it's only a few hours, it doesn't make sense to have all that travel time."

The most likely location now for the pontiff to meet with the American hierarchy is in metropolitan Los Angeles, Shaw said. He did not elaborate.

In Northern California, Ted Elisee of the Monterey Diocese confirmed that church officials there have requested permission from the Monterey County Board of Supervisors to use the Laguna Seca raceway near Salinas on Sept. 16, 1987, during the Pope's visit to the area en route from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

Bishop Thaddeus Shubsda of the Diocese of Monterey has proposed that Pope John Paul fly by helicopter from the Monterey airport to the Carmel Mission Basilica and visit the tomb of Father Junipera Serra, the Franciscan monk who founded the California mission chain.

Proposed for Sainthood

Serra has been proposed for sainthood, and boosters hope the Pope would declare him "venerable," the next step toward being named a Catholic saint, when he visits Carmel.

After visiting Serra's tomb, and addressing an invited group of about 300, the pontiff would helicopter to the raceway, which can accommodate about 100,000.

Elisee said a major speech by the Pope on agriculture is envisioned at Laguna Seca, with representatives of both growers and farm workers participating in a closing prayer.

Under this proposal, the Pope would then go by helicopter to San Francisco, where he would stay overnight with Archbishop John Quinn.

On Sept. 17, the pontiff might celebrate Mass at Candlestick Park, church authorities have said.

John Paul's proposed schedule also calls for talks and a prayer session at St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco with representatives from hundreds of religious orders, and later, a meeting with lay Catholic representatives selected from across the nation.

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