New York's streets will change from empty to jammed with the arrival of Pope John Paul II Tuesday. The city was relatively quiet and many offices closed today for Yom Kippur, but municipal workers were putting up police barricades to control the hundreds of thousands of pedestrians and anticipated mammoth traffic jams that will mark the city's celebration of the pope's coming.
The pope's 28-hour stay in New York is made up of two separate visits-- some say it should be three.
He is visiting the international territory of the United Nations first and then the Archdiocese of New York. The Diocese of Brooklyn gets shorter shrift, although the pope will drive through it and stop at Shea Stadium.
From the outset, the pontiff has stressed that he began to plan his U.S. trip only after receiving an invitation from U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim.
"I attach great importance to the task which I will have with my presence before the General Assembly of the United Nations," the pope said in his last Sunday address in Rome before embarking.
The United Nations and the Archdiocese of New York engaged in a modest tug of war over the pope's schedule, with each side trying to win more hours of John Paul's time. It ended amicably and spokesmen for both sides say they are satisfied with the final arrangements.
One sour note has been sounded by Polish-American groups in Queens. Led by state Sen. Thomas Bartosiewicz, a Queens Democrat, they have protested that the church's first Polish pope is not going to appear before a single Polish-American audience in greater New York.
"The whole trip has been Manhattanized. It's a disaster for everyday people," Bartosiewicz said. Several Brooklyn and Queens priests agreed with him in separate interviews.
Officially, the Brooklyn diocese has no complaints although the planning of the pope's trip was controlled by the archdiocese across the East River.
New York is divided into two ecclesiastical jurisdictions: the Archdiocese of New York, headed by Cardinal Terence Cooke, and the Diocese of Brooklyn, led by Bishop Francis J. Mugavero.
Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, plus seven upstate counties, make up the New York archdiocese, which oversees the spiritual lives of approximately 1.8 million Catholics.
The Diocese of Brooklyn includes Brooklyn and Queens. Though the smallest diocese in the nation by area, it is the most densely populated. It has about 1.4 million Catholics.
The composition of New York's Catholic community recalls the city's role as a point-of-entry for hundreds of thousands of immigrants, first those from Europe and more recently from Puerto Rico and in Latin America.
The result is an extraordinary diversity within the Catholic community, particularly in Brooklyn and Queens. In some Polish-American parishes, more services are conducted in Polish than English. Liturgies are tailored for Haitian, Korean, Philippine and a score of other national congregations, including the Irish, who came first and are quick to remind visitors of the fact. One parish in Brooklyn polled its schoolchildren on the languages spoken at home and the replies included 28 different ones.
Although the immigrants have brought diversity to the New York archdiocese as well, it is a less dramatic human mix. The startling change, however, is that the archdiocese has in the past 20 years become more than one-half Hispanic.
Nevertheless, it is dominated by the Irish and other European subgroups. There have been occasional protests from Hispanics, and efforts have been made to teach more priests Spanish and to provide other special services in the Hispanic community.
On Wednesday, Ellis Island and the Statute of Liberty, those reminders of the immigrant tradition, will be the backdrop for the pontiff as he rises in Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan, to deliver what Catholic officials say will be the most important address of his stay in New York.
The late Cardinal Francis Spellman was the last Catholic churchman to be a national figure in the United States. Cardinal Terence Cooke, who succeeded Spellman, has enjoyed a similar prominence.
Under Spellman and Cooke, the archdiocese has emerged as both more conservative and more powerful than Brooklyn in church councils. Cooke, for instance, is a leader of the U.S. Council of Bishops' antiabortion efforts.
Although Catholics do not make up as large a part of the population here as in Boston and Chicago, they account for more than 30 percent of the population.
Despite these numbers, Catholic political influence has declined in the city. New York state has a Catholic governor, but the influence of Catholic-run Democratic ward organizations has waned and Catholics no longer dominate city politics as they once did.
In public relations-happy New York, the pope's coming has required no promotion.
Businesses have volunteered their services to help the archdiocese prepare for John Paul's visit and there are signs welcoming the pope in subways and on buses as well as in the city's parishes. Fifth Avenue bookstores have window displays of the pontiff's poetry.
The visit has required some stiff-arming of politicians and others who wouldn't have minded an opportunity to be seen and photographed with the pope.
Gov. Hugh Carey, Mayor Edward Koch and former mayor Robert Wagner are the only three nonclerical, non-United Nations people to be included in the welcoming party at La Guardia airport.
Koch has announced that he will turn up at every major public event on the pope's New York schedule. The mayor also decided that the pope will be showered with ticker tape along part of his route through the city.
In brief travels around New York, the pope will pass two historic Catholic sites. He will be driven past the old Customs House in lower Manhattan where Jesuit Isaac Jogues said the first mass in New York in 1644. Jogues was killed by Iroquois two years later.
The pontiff also will pass close to the home of America's first and only native-born saint. Mother Elizabeth Seton.