The U.S. bishops' conference has just sent out its media credential assignments to journalists who've signed up to cover Pope Benedict's visit.
More than 5,000 journalists applied. I'm told that the bishops' media coordinators awarded spaces to 1,141 news outlets, among them Our Sunday Visitor newsweekly and the four journalists (self included) we're dedicating to the visit.
Unfortunately, the media office won't grant a journalist access to more than a single event a day "due to logistical restrictions." The problem is transportation difficulties owing largely to tight security. The Secret Service is apparently imposing draconian measures around the movements of the pope (whom they refer to only as "the protectee").
Security was bound to be tight. But it doesn't help that Osama bin Laden recently accused Pope Benedict of a "new crusade" against Islam. Or that Italy's most prominent Muslim commentator converted to Catholicism -- and was just baptized by Pope Benedict during the Easter Vigil in St. Peter's Basilica, prompting even cautious protests by moderate Muslims who are in dialogue with the Vatican.