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Pope's Baltimore schedule hinges on June visit by Vatican team


Details of Pope John Paul II's Oct. 23 Mass at Oriole Park at Camden Yards -- including the time and ticket distribution -- will not be released until after a visit by Vatican officials next month, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Baltimore said yesterday.

The Vatican team must approve the schedule proposed by local Catholic officials for the pope's visit -- including a welcoming event at Cathedral of Mary Our Queen on North Charles Street and a visit to the Basilica downtown -- the spokesman said.

"That's when we'll say, 'How will we fill the seats?' " said Bill Blaul, communications director for the archdiocese.

The Vatican team will visit the sites and approve or modify the schedule, Mr. Blaul said.

"We're confident the schedule we've proposed is realistic," he said. "We want to maximize the ability of people to take part in the papal event without causing a lot of disruption."

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said earlier yesterday that the pope would preside at an outdoor Mass at the stadium even if the Orioles are in the World Series.

Mr. Schmoke said at his weekly news briefing that he, Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos, city and state police officials, and Secret Service agents met yesterday at the governor's office to talk about the pope's visit.

"We discussed the pleasant possibilities of the complication that could arise, which is that the date for the Mass is also the date for the second game of the World Series at the home of the American League team," the mayor said.

"We are going to plan as if both will occur."

Mr. Schmoke said the papal Mass would be worked around the possible start of an evening World Series game.

Archbishop William H. Keeler is hoping that a World Series game here coincides with the date of the pope's visit, Mr. Blaul said.

"He's actively praying that the Orioles are in the World Series," he said.

The pope's long-anticipated Baltimore visit, part of his planned Oct. 20-23 trip to the United States, will follow an address to the United Nations and a stop in Newark, N.J.

The Baltimore visit, which was announced last month, will be the first visit by any pope to the oldest Roman Catholic archdiocese in the United States, although John Paul II and Paul VI visited Baltimore before being elected pope.

An advisory committee of 35 people, composed of church, civic and community leaders, has been created to help with the pope's visit, Mr. Blaul said.

Details on when the pope will arrive and leave have not been worked out, Mr. Blaul said. But the pope will not be in town for long, he said.

"Remember, we're looking at a one-day visit, less than sunrise to sunset," he said.

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