On Monday, Mayor Nutter faulted “little people with little pieces of information” for more or less inciting Pope panic in Philadelphia over the weekend.
On Tuesday, in a phone interview with Citified, Everett Gillison, Nutter’s chief of staff and point man on the Pope visit, said one of the big problems is that people are getting too much information. “It’s just the opposite,” Gillison said when asked if the lack of logistical details about the Pope’s visit was undermining public confidence. “They’re getting literally too much, too early, and that’s what’s causing all the angst. They’re getting inundated with what could or could not be …”
So that’s the official line: If anything, the city has been too forthcoming, and the real problem here is an over-competitive press and the uncharacteristic emergence of a mile-wide twitchy streak in too many Philadelphians. Relax, the city says, we got this.
Unofficially, the story is a little more complicated. Nutter administration sources in a number of departments tell Citified that the city very much wants to release more information and to firm up logistical plans sooner, but is being prevented from doing so by the Secret Service, the World Meeting of Families and Vatican security officials. The sources say that this dynamic — which effectively prevents the city from communicating openly with its own citizens — is extremely frustrating, particularly given the growing public clamor for information. Read more »
By now, you’ve probably seen the maps.
Depending on which one you look at, it appears that somewhere between a large chunk and an extremely large chunk of Philadelphia will be swallowed up by the so-called “security perimeter” for Pope Francis’ September visit.
Mayor Michael Nutter attempted to smooth things over yesterday, but by then the damage was already done. After weeks of reports that SEPTA service would be suspended, bridges could close and I-95 might even shut down, the city seemed to have had enough — it was time to throw a full-on tantrum and give in to the Pope panic.
Philadelphia, this is a bad look for us. Read more »
SEPTA Pope Map, updated 7/20/2015
SEPTA announced at a 3 p.m. news conference today that it will push the reset button on sales of those special one-day Regional Rail passes for the visit of Pope Francis September 26th and 27th.
Sales of the special one-day Regional Rail passes for the papal visit will resume on Monday, August 3rd.
But this time, you’ll have to be lucky — not fast — to get one, for sales will be conducted by lottery using a system developed by Philadelphia-based Ticketleap. Read more »
Remember the Royal wedding and its attendant flurry of completely insane memorabilia? With the Pope’s impending visit to Philly, we’re inching toward that territory, if not already firmly planted in it. Already, big companies and small crafters are turning out bizarre tchotchkes to commemorate the occasion. Here is some of the weirdest, funniest, craftiest and probably sort of sacrilegious memorabilia out there now.
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LGBT groups in America are seeking a meeting with Pope Francis during his trip to America in September.
“In a formal letter sent to Pope Francis at the Vatican, groups representing gay and transgender people, Catholics, and Hispanics said the church in America was in the midst of a ‘pastoral crisis over gay issues and asked to meet with him while he was in the United States,” the New York Times reports. Read more »
Did you see any of the maps that circulated the Internet over the last few days supposedly showing the “security perimeter” that officials will erect during Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia in September?
Banish them from your mind, Mayor Michael Nutter said at a press conference Monday. They’re not the real deal, he said. Read more »
The pope’s appearance in Philadelphia is expected to have a major impact on Middletown’s Woodbourne SEPTA train station. | Google Maps
A Bucks County township has declared a “state of emergency” for the pope’s September visit to Philadelphia, saying the designation will help officials seek federal disaster money to recoup costs associated with the visit.
The declaration came at the recommendation of Middletown Township Police Chief Joseph Bartorilla. “He said one advantage of declaring a state of emergency is that it makes it more likely the township will be eligible for reimbursement from the federal government for police overtime and other expenses incurred resulting from” the pope’s visit, the Bucks County Courier Times reports. Read more »
In nine weeks, Pope Francis will be in Philadelphia.
From the day he arrives to the day he leaves (check out his two-day itinerary here), he’ll step foot in vastly dissimilar buildings and spaces in the city, among them the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Independence Mall, and the Curran-Fromhold Correction Facility. It’s with this spirit of anticipation for this once-in-a-lifetime event that we’ve selected this #phillyscape shot taken inside the Cathedral Basilica on the Parkway.
It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, the “urban pontificate” will have to say about Philadelphia in the hours after his visit comes to an end. So far, it’s been off to a somewhat shaky start with questions centering around whether the city can handle the challenge of such an unprecedented event. Will we be able to transport the crowds to and from their destinations? Will we make a good impression with the Pope and the visitors he brings?
Relax, it’s going to be amazing.
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This week, it seems, Philly reached a tipping point.
We’ve known for a while now that Pope Francis will visit in September, that it’ll bring a lot of people to town, and that it’s going to make everything just a bit crazy. This week, though, is when it all seemed like it might be too much — like a backlash might be settling in.
It might’ve been talk of a perimeter fence. It might’ve been the proposal to shut down the Ben Franklin Bridge. Perhaps it was the notion of shutting down I-95. Whatever the trigger point, it’s all starting to seem a bit much.
The question is why?
Other cities have hosted the pope. Other cities have hosted the World Meeting of Families. And other cities have put on big events in a post-9/11 security environment. So why does it seem like we’re the ones being overwhelmed by the task?
Here’s the answer: What we’re doing is unprecedented.
Other cities have hosted the pope. But they’ve not invited the whole world into the heart of their city while trying to maintain War on Terror standards of security at the same time. Nobody has attempted this scale at this degree of difficulty. So maybe we need to give ourselves a collective break.
To get a sense, compare what’s happening in Philly to three other papal trips: Pope Benedict to New York in 2008, Pope John Paul II to Denver in 1993 and Pope Benedict to Milan in 2012.
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