Tuesday, April 15, 2008

En Route

Seen off by the Cardinal-Dean Angelo Sodano amid rainy Roman skies, the Volo Papale -- dubbed "Shepherd One" in English -- has departed from Fiumicino Airport.

In keeping with custom, the Pope will likely hold an in-flight press conference, the news from which tends to start trickling out via Airphone. The only time pontiffs take direct questions from reporters, the sessions can, and do, make headlines: B16's trans-Atlantic comment on Mexican politicians who voted for wider access to abortion ended up overshadowing his entire trip to Brazil in the Stateside news-cycle. This time, with questions even more US-focused, expect the stories filed under the unique dateline "Aboard the Papal Plane" to appear around 11 or Noon Eastern.

Topping the "traveling Vatican" along for this trip will be three cardinals: the Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, and the two American heads of Curial offices, the California-born prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith William Levada and the Baltimore native J. Francis Stafford, the major penitentiary of the church and former archbishop of Denver.

For a look at how the visitors are seeing things on this side of the Pond, Vatican Radio's got a whole plate of stories up and streaming.

PHOTO: AP/Gregorio Borgia