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Covering the pope even means Secret Service protection

The Vatican press corps waiting to enter the

The Vatican press corps waiting to enter the United Nations for Pope Francis' speech Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. The group got in quickly. Credit: Newsday / Bart Jones

Sometimes being part of the pope's Vatican press corps has unexpected benefits -- such as getting through security quickly.

Since the press corps landed on Pope Francis' plane Tuesday at Joint Base Andrews, we've had Secret Service agents assigned to travel with us.

Having your own Secret Service escort definitely helps. While long lines of journalists and others stood outside the United Nations early Friday morning waiting -- or even just hoping -- to get in, we slid right past everyone.

We almost look like a team -- most dress in black or dark blue, as the Vatican requests, and we travel in single file when arriving at and leaving events. Photographers and television cameramen lug large cameras, tripods and other equipment.

As we passed some journalists waiting to get into the UN Friday, one said, "That's the Vatican press corps."

When we left the UN before the pope's address had finished so we could get to Ground Zero in time for his next event, we passed by scores of journalists, photographers and television camera crews sprawled out in other rooms because they had never even made it to the General Assembly hall to see the pope.

We had breezed right in and breezed right out, accompanied by Vatican aides and Secret Service guys, who shouted at people to stay where they were so we could pass through.

Inside the UN, we were escorted into a room with a great view of the podium. Some other photographers came in also. Before you knew it, UN security personnel were there, yelling for non-Vatican media people to get out of the room.

One protested that he was the photographer for the king of Spain. He probably was, but that got him nowhere anyway. The pope is the pope, and so is his press corps.

Outside the UN, an NYPD patrol car and a black Secret Service SUV with lights flashing cleared the way for us to quickly get to Ground Zero.

As we neared the site, people on the streets started taking pictures or videotaping our bus. They apparently thought we were celebrities, or someone important, or maybe even the pope himself.

"Wave everybody, they think you're celebrities," one of the Secret Service agents on the bus shouted jokingly.

After that event, on the way back to the hotel, a motorist got in between our bus and the Secret Service SUV. Suddenly the agent in sunglasses and a wire going from his ear into his shirt popped his head out of the window and started waving his arms and yelling at the motorist to get out of the way.

He quickly did.

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