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The Papal Visit : Papal Digest : The Case of the Unknown Bishop

September 17, 1987| Compiled by NIKKI FINKE from staff reports

A pair of police officers suffered a few distinctly uncomfortable moments before the start of the Pope's meeting with American bishops at the San Fernando Mission on Wednesday.

Shortly before 9 a.m., a man dressed in the red-trimmed cassock of a bishop got out of a car stopped on nearby Sepulveda Boulevard. Sporting a name tag identifying him as Paul Baltakis, a representative of Lithuanian Catholic bishops, the man was briefly questioned by journalists as he strode quickly past a barrier blocking public access. Two police officers standing guard stopped the journalists but let the man continue toward the mission.

Then they began wondering if the bishop they had let pass was really a bishop.

"They were all supposed to be on the bus," one puzzled officer said, reaching for his walkie-talkie. By then the man had disappeared.

But several anxious minutes later the portable radio crackled with the news that the pedestrian had been stopped and questioned. He was a bishop and said that he had stopped at a parish so he could not take one of the buses.

"He checked out," said one of the officers, greatly relieved.

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