Thursday, February 14, 2013

Knights of Columbus and their Underwriting the Age of the Rockstar Papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI

I caught a glimpse of a video sound bite of a very tired, very old Benedict XVI doing his last Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica on Ash Wednesday. 

His planned retirement for after his last birthday at 85 last April was delayed to tie up the loose ends of the brewing Vatileaks scandal which is still going on, on the back burner in that the Banking scandal is still being handled mostly behind closed doors amongst European Banks and European Bank Regulators. 

No doubt it is good to have a vicious political back street fighter like Carl Anderson of the Knight of Columbus on board, literally on the Board of the Vatican Bank, to exert the last influence of the bankrupt American Political Empire to save what is left of the ambitious shards of the glory days of John Paul II, the Cold War and that Rockstar Papacy of JPII.

2008 - Carl Anderson - Second fm Left - Benedict XVI NYC Visit
I started this article wanting to exercise my memory of Paul VI’s first 14 hour visit to the New World, to New York City on October 4, 1965. I wanted to confirm the itinerary of that day before making a memory thing in writing that might in fact contradict the facts.

I was going to go into more detail about the Mass at Yankee Stadium with an audience of 90,000 live for a papal mass and a TV audience of the tens of millions because the liberal (Jewish) east coast media was only three TV networks back then, no hundreds of channels on cable for you youngsters to comprehend the stone age in television land.

No doubt on that date, many Protestants and fundamentalists turned their forced view of a Roman ceremony off the TV and sat around the parlor and or on the porch as I can remember when I was a child and the Political Conventions every four years wasted a weeks worth of summertime TV viewing pleasure on politics. 

It was the convention or the porch or playing outside in the dark off the porch to entertain oneselves in those days.

And since I am on memories and tangents, I can remember waiting in the rain, having taken a day off from work in full time work, full time college schedule up at Columbia to study for midterms, waiting for the Rockstar John Paul II to cruise by on his way to Madison Square Garden to some youth rally that I waited there in the rain only to not see John Paul II with his torso through the roof of a limo in a clear raincoat waving to the crowd but just as he approached my spot on the sidewalk, he did a full ninety degree turn and waved to the folks on the opposite side of the street and my only view was his back side so to speak. 

So much for a wasted investment of my infatuation with the media rock star from Rome.

Well anyway, trying to nail down the hour by hour itinerary of Paul VI in 1965, I came across some interesting financial flows and as it turns out remote causes of JPII’s super stardom and Benedict’s imitation of such in his royal progresses since.

As you may remember the Beatles did a Concert in Shea Stadium in August 1965. They got 55,000 in attendance, no doubt a world record for the entertainment business but the Beatles were groundbreakers in so many ways in terms of the new global dismensions of entertainment and raking in literally tons of cash profits from a business that even Elvis could not have dreamed of a decade earlier.

I was looking for the hour by hour itinerary of Paul VI in NYC which I still have not found. Oh, I know he went here and there but I only found LBJ’s Official White House Diary to see when Paul VI make it to the Waldorf Astoria with a private meeting with LBJ and other senior members of Congress in the plush rooms along the plush hallways of that icon of American Luxury hoteliers.

Then the thought occurred to me why do Yankee Stadium and not Shea Stadium which is near JFK airport and a more convenient spot for a pontiff that does not even want to sleep in the New World though he deigned to briefly visit it once. Papal Jet might turn back into a pumpkin at midnight? LOL. That or sleep in Franny's Pink Bishop's Palace. ;~) 

BTW Paul VI, besides the LBJ meeting, he got to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, make a speech at the United Nations - "war no more, no more war..." and checked on the royal property of Michelangelo’s Pieta Statue on loan to the Papal Exhibit at the extended by one year 1964 World’s Fair which I did not get to see. Another story sometime on that.

So now you have Yankee Stadium in this brave new world of Rock and Roll entertainment squeezing 90,000 into a stadium with an official capacity of 57,000 odd, same as Shea Stadium’s same official 57,000 odd capacity.

Further research put me into reviewing the visuals and my conclusions were that the Beatles in Shea only sold tickets for the official stadium seats.  John, Paul, George and Ringo performed on the grass of the baseball infield.

Yankee Stadium on the other hand had something like 33,000 extra seats on the grass around the papal Mass Platform, a platform no doubt not unlike a boxing ring in other stadium, arena settings. 

I can only imagine that every folding chair from every school hall of every Catholic Parish in the city had contributed those folding chairs and make sure you stencil your school’s name on the seats if you want them returned etc.

So you have this evolution in less than two months of super rock stardom entertainment jumping from 55,000 seats at Shea to 90,000 at Yankee Stadium.

Then the thought occurred to me that the Beatles’s concert was no doubt limited in seating of screaming teenage girls behind barriers and also in consideration of liability insurance of such a unique strange event on the American Landscape.

Then I have to wonder why Yankee stadium and not Shea Stadium as the staging area for Paul VI’s very crowded papal staging of the Roman Mass.

Then I found out why or at least found a path of least resistance in logic to find out that the Knights of Columbus owned the land on which Yankee Stadium Stood. 

Then from there is the logical leap of who would be crazy enough to underwrite such a probably very expensive Insurance Policy on an event that probable needed a total waver of most city safety codes in existence at the time. Who else, the Knight of Columbus.

When Pope Paul VI delivered his homily at Yankee Stadium in 1965, he was actually speaking on ground owned by the Knights of Columbus. At the time, the Order served as the Yankees’ landlords. In 1953, some 30 years after the stadium opened, the Knights bought the nine acres on which Yankee Stadium was built. The decision grew out of Father McGivney’s vision — not as a lifelong baseball fan, but as the founder of a fraternal order to help provide for members’ families. 

To continue fulfilling that vision in the mid-20th century, the Order began purchasing the properties of some large corporations and “leasing the properties back to the original owners at a rental that will give the Order an adequate interest return for the money invested,” wrote then-Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart in a letter to members. “We gave them a 100-year lease for the ground at what turned out to be a reasonable, low rent,” explained Dechant. 

But in the early 1970s, when representatives of the City of New York decided to renovate the stadium, they also wanted to own the land under it. “It was not our wish to sell it, but we had no choice,” Dechant said. “We were proud to own it.”

That the capacity to make big media statements and big media like events involving the Pope as modern Rockstar in a modern age, you need sponsors as in the form of an insurance company like the Knights of Columbus to underwrite worldwide the big stadium entertainment events that helps you push and sell the product, whatever that happens to be. Etc.

That media stardom changes the scope of centuries old tradition and the mere fact of global fame gives so many the illusion and or false perception that the star on stage is a good or honorable person. Anybody ever hear of Papal Knight Jimmy Savile? Whatever. 

I had also done some research in the recent past to find out that 90,000 in Yankee Stadium for a Mass was not a record.

I think the record might have been set in 1926 with something like 200,000 at a mass in the newly built for the Sesquicentennial Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia.

I wonder who wrote the liability insurance policy filed with the city of Philadelphia for that event?



Jayden Cameron said...

Really fascinating read, quite insightful and witty to boot! thanks.

M.McShea said...

Thanks for the compliment Jayden.