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MoCo Pulls Greeting to Pope From Buses

Montgomery County officials today pulled plans to use hundreds of Ride On buses to greet Pope Benedict XVI, following concerns from some riders who questioned whether it was appropriate for a public entity to welcome a religious leader.

When Ride On buses began rolling this morning, their electronic message boards scrolled: "Welcome Pope Benedict."

Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), said county officials were under the impression that Metrobuses would be posting a similar message, in addition to giving participants in the pope's visit the option to buy a commemorative one-day Mass Pass.
But Metro spokesperson Steven Taubenkibel said there are no plans for such a greeting when the pope arrives tomorrow.

After learning of concerns from riders and checking with Metro, Lacefield said the county decided to scrap the greeting. He said the idea originated with one of Leggett's advisers.

"If Metro isn't doing it, then we probably think it's not appropriate," he said. "We don't want to give any wrong impression about favoring one religion over another. We are a community of many faiths."

By Anne Bartlett  |  April 14, 2008; 4:06 PM ET
Categories:  Ann Marimow  
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The Mark Fennel campaign for County Council and Property Tax Relief welcomes the Pope on County Council District 4
Election Day!

Posted by: Welcome Pope! | April 14, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I am already bored by this Montgomery County election. And to think this is only a primary and we need to endure the nonsense of a general election down the road. . .

To the GOP'ers: Cry all you want about taxes but understand that your taxes are not going to go down and will probably go up. You gutted the federal gov't programs for supporting state & local government and Ehrlich took a good swipe at gutting state programs for localities - so the localities have to raise their own cash to pay for services and that is exactly what they will do.

To Dems: Don't be stupid. Now is not the time to be installing bathroom upgrades (no matter how much water is leaking on the office below.) Make every dollar count.

Now, can we talk about something with real impact on this blog?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Pope B-16. WHO DOES THIS HURT.

Any upset by this needs to get a life.

Posted by: Jonathan M. Fox | April 14, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

When somebody says they are "bored" with elections that is the time to watch out. That is the person who needs to go and see the Pope and get an audience with him if possible. I'm sure the Pope is experienced and wise enough to tell you what life is like in some dictatorships around the world.

And when a newspaper like the Washington Post tells you in an editorial that an election is over when a primary where 10% of all voters pick the winner takes place, watch out. Then we know that that newspaper wants to push its agenda of income, sales, car, corporate and property tax increases right past us when we are not looking. Just like a voice fake where a basketball player says, "look over there," and then drives the other way for a basket when you look.

And when somebody owns an outdoor shopping center and says that there is only one person to vote for and posts hundreds of campaign signs for that person and removes any sign there for anybody else, watch out. That is what the owners of the Leisure World shopping center are doing. We put up 2 little Fennel campaign signs there to raise awareness for the special election of county council for district 4. They were taken down and replaced by 100 signs for another candidate, all around the shopping center by a lady who said, and I'm getting this second hand, "We own this shopping center and we are going to tell people how to vote." Of course they don't just invite people to shop there after they have been screened for voting habits, do they?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I guess this will mean that all of the voters for Thomas Hardman will have to shop elsewhere.

Or maybe not! I think I'll go shopping...

Posted by: Thomas Hardman | April 15, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

The pope is coming to speak to the UN later this week; he is coming as a head of state. Take a look at the Congress of Vienna which still pertains.

Posted by: mtclax | April 15, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

The pope is coming to speak to the UN later this week; he is coming as a head of state. Take a look at the Congress of Vienna which still pertains.

Posted by: mtclax | April 15, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

What utter nonsense! Apparently no one in Montgomery County realizes that the Pope is also a HEAD OF STATE - (The Vatican) - and he is being welcomed to the US in that capacity by its own head of state. What about the taxpapers dollars that were used to repave the "Via Dolorosa," a perfectly fine stretch of Massachusetts Ave in front of the Embassy of the Apostolic Nunciature? That is a questionable expenditure whether it be the Pope or Britain's Prime Minister, whose Embassy is on the same beaten path. How many school children could have been provided books or lunches with that asphalt??

Posted by: Margaret Shannon | April 15, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

What is the problem? I'm not Catholic, yet I am excited about the fact that the Pope will be visiting our area. Leave it to a few bitter Montgomery-ites to spoil things for everyone else. It's a shame that what sounded like a very nice gesture from the County will not happen.

Posted by: brneyes | April 15, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

How many school children in DC don't have books or lunches? DC leads the nation in spending per student and ranks at or near the bottom in providing an education. Now eat everything on your plate, remember there are children starving somewhere.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Brneyes you have written my sentiments precisely. I guarantee that if Mark Fennel were on the County Council he would introduce a resolution not only welcoming the Pope, but inviting him to Montgomery County!

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | April 15, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

It is essential to preserve the Constitution's separation between Church and State. Mr Leggett was right to pull the message.

Posted by: Thomas Hardman | April 15, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't the county council meeting often start with a prayer from one member of the clergy or another?

Posted by: Council Prayer | April 15, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

CORRECTION: The D.C. Metro buses DO HAVE WELCOME signs on them. Saw a few just minutes ago. Include quotes from Benedict, such as: "The one who has hope lives life differently."

Posted by: J.D. | April 16, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

You know, the guy IS a head of state (Vatican City).

Posted by: Foamer | April 16, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Separation of church and state? Do your has nothing to do with this situation, other than to be used as a flimsy argument when nothing else can be applied. We're talking about welcome signs on buses, not a state-run religion here. Welcoming a foreign dignitary (yes, the Vatican IS a country!) wouldn't violate any of our constitutional freedoms, it just would have been a kind gesture. Instead, some people who don't have better things to do in their lives made it an issue.

Posted by: brneyes | April 16, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Petty, Montgomery County - very petty.

Posted by: Bugs | April 16, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Thomas Hardman,

Sorry to disappoint you, but the words seperation of church and state do not appear in the Constitution. They are from a private correspondence of Thomas Jefferson and are opposed to what the liberals have done the phrase.

Posted by: Kevin A. Koppmeier | April 16, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

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