Manila would like just about everyone to wear diapers for the pope’s visit next week

Not just for babies.
Not just for babies.
Image: AP Photo/L' Osservatore Romano, HO
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A chronic shortage of portable toilets has prompted Francis Tolentino, chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, to resort to extreme measures during Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines next week: Recommending adult diapers for traffic police and many of the millions of people expected to attend an open-air mass in the heavily Catholic country.

Traffic cops will be the first to test the personal sanitation solution this Friday, donning adult diapers for a trial run during a 24-hour religious procession that preceeds the pope’s visit. The idea was “well received” by police, Tolentino told the Associated Press. He suggested that priests, nuns, seminarians, and the elderly—though presumably not Pope Francis himself—should also consider diapers for the papal mass that will be held Jan. 18.

Tolentino told a local radio station that the diapers can absorb “up to four rounds of urination,” and added that he would “try” to wear a diaper himself for the pope’s four-day visit, which starts on Jan. 15. The pope’s final mass in Manila is expected to draw as may as 6 million people.

It’s not clear why Manila was unable to provide enough portable toilets for the papal visit. The government allocated 20 million pesos ($445,000) to prettify the 40-hectare Rizal Park, including the installation of toilets. But the estimated crowd  would require approximately 6,000 portable toilets, based on the proportion used for a recent beatification ceremony in Rome.

A FAQ for the Pope’s Philippine visit suggests that portable toilet vendors get in touch with city health regulators, “since portable toilets affect sanitation.”