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The UN is a pretty interesting place to be at even on a quiet day, let alone on a day like today, with such a high profile personality visiting.
Security was tight, and movement throughout the building was very limited once the Pope arrived. Squawk boxes alerted us to close all of our windows and updated us as to what sections of the building were being frozen. We watched the Pope’s motorcade pull in to the driveway from our office window and followed nearly every second of his tour and speeches from our monitors.
Benedict XVI was received by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who does not belong to any particular religious affiliation, and they proceeded together to the Secretary’s office...
Between photo-ops, book signing and gift exchanges, the two leaders took some time to talk privately. Little was revealed about their fifteen minute tete a tete, but while in front of the cameras the two exchanged niceties. The Secretary General showed the Pope some of the pictures on his desk and several of his books in his office.
During the visit, a new UN was revealed to me. Most of the long hallways, usually abuzz with activity and movement, were eerily empty. And then all of a sudden you would see a long line of UN staffers quietly and patiently waiting in line to enter the General Assembly and listen to the Pontiff’s address. I had to wait for a Public Information Officer to escort me to the areas I needed to be at, as we were not at liberty to move freely.
Finally I made my way to the exit of the building where I waited for over an hour, with the rest of the UN press corps, for the Pontiff, or anyone else of note, to leave.
When he finally walked out, surrounded by staff, dignitaries and security, he took a second to pause, look towards the media mob huddled in a corner and pointing all matter of cameras at him, and raise his hands in a blessing.
Despite all the uproar and buzz that the presence of the Pontiff caused, once he was whisked out the building, it was back to business as usual for the staff, delegates and press. The lunch room was quickly full of hungry people, relishing their freedom of movement after nearly three hours of quasi-lockdown.
Filed under: Pope Benedict
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