Pope Francis Holds Private Audience With Transgender Man


This weekend at the Vatican, Pope Francis met with a Spanish transgender man, Diego Neria Lejárraga, after he wrote a letter to the Pope complaining that his church discriminated against him following his gender-reassignment surgery. The Washington Blade says Lejárraga complained about the rejection he felt from his fellow congregants, who even went so far as to abuse him with verbal attacks, calling him names like “the devil’s daughter.”

“After hearing him on many occasions, I felt that he would listen to me,” Neria told a newspaper publisher in Spain.

Human rights groups are applauding the Pope’s move, calling it a historic, forward-thinking move for the papacy. Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of LGBT Catholics group Dignity USA told the Blade that the meeting is a “very significant event.”

“For the Pope to meet with a transgender man about to be married, and for that meeting to result in this man feeling more hopeful about his place in the Church, shows a concern for those at the very margins of our church,” she said. “I hope the Pope listened carefully to this man’s experience, and will speak about what he heard.”

Pope’s Philadelphia Schedule Unveiled


Catholic officials over the weekend released details of Pope Francis’ September trip to the United States — the centerpiece of which will be his multi-day visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.

Catholic News Agency reports the details were revealed by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, a member of the organizing meeting for the trip.

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Morning Headlines: Soaring Rental Rates for Week of Pope’s Visit to Philly

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Let’s face it, the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia in late September is probably the biggest story of the year for the region. While everyone is excited about the possibility of one million people packing the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a Papal Mass/celebration, it begs one question: Where the heck are all of these people going to stay? (Also, will Pope Francis I being doing something artsy?)

The Inquirer checks in with a few people who are opening up their home during that time, some renting them out and others choosing to participate in the host guest program. So, how much would a home in Coatesville–about an hour outside of the city–run you for this historic event? How does $15,000 sound?

At the price Smith’s charging – which even she dubbed “ungodly” – “dinner will be waiting for you when you arrive and breakfast in the morning and the fridge will be fully stocked,” she said.

Smith’s three-bedroom house is among hundreds of properties already up for rent in the week of Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia.

A man is trying to rent out his one-bedroom apartment in Rittenhouse for $10,000/night. Here’s what AirBnB looks like at this very moment for that weekend.

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Four Reasons Philly Business Will Find Things Tougher Next Year

So far, the outlook for 2015 is pretty good. Most experts are predicting a continued economic strengthening with even one member of the Federal Reserve saying Monday that the “dreary days” of the economy may be over. The Hartford says both small- and medium-sized businesses are “successful” and “optimistic” about next year. Additional surveys of businesses conducted by Sage, Principal, ADP, PNC and others confirm the same: increased financial strength, growth and optimism as we head into the new year. Seems like good times ahead.

Uh … except for businesses in Philadelphia. Here, we face a few unique challenges. Challenges that may mean 2015 (and 2016) may not be so good. If you’re running a business in or around the city, be careful of these four potential bumps in the road.

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Are Philly Liberals Ready for the Pope?


As Philly this week celebrated the long-awaited news that Pope Francis will indeed be visiting us for next year’s World Meeting of Families, this Tweet came across the transom:

Well, goodness. That’s not fun to think about, is it? But that means it’s probably a question worth confronting: How should those of us who are feminist gay-loving liberals react to the forthcoming (temporary) takeover of our city by a church that doesn’t share our values?

My suggestion: Treat the event like it’s family coming for Thanksgiving. Smile! Try to be a good host! Avoid unnecessary arguments! And if you can’t do those things, well, remember: The guests will only be here a few days — and then they’ll leave. This too shall pass.

Having given that advice, though, I can’t bring myself — as a feminist gay-loving liberal — to get too worked up about the the World Meeting of Families and accompanying papal visit. It doesn’t mean my own values don’t matter to me (they do) but because this seems to be a unique moment in the church, and I’m eager to see it up close.

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Five Things Philly Needs to Fix Before Pope Francis Gets Here


It’s not every day that the pope puts Philadelphia on his itinerary.

In what seems like an epic win for a city that treats newscasters as A-listers and almost imploded when Miley Cyrus stumbled around for a couple of weeks, Pope Francis has officially confirmed his September 2015 trip, a three-day visit that coincides with the World Meeting of Families (I’ll assume the Weymouths’ invitation is in the mail).

Mayor Nutter has stated the obvious, calling preparations for the visit a “massive undertaking” that will require a “tremendous amount of coordination.”

Officials are all over the usual: coordinating security, transportation and hotel accommodations for an influx of tourists that could momentarily double the city’s population. Which is great, but I can’t help but wonder who — in the words of my Catholic grandmother — will be responsible for “covering up our sins.”

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More Than 2 Million Expected to Come to Philly For Pope’s Visit

More than two million people are expected to visit Philadelphia for the Pope’s visit next September, Mayor Michael Nutter said. The Vatican confirmed early this morning that Pope Francis would attend the World Meeting of Families gathering in Philadelphia.

Organizers have already raised about half of their $45 million fundraising goal for the World Meeting of Families, which runs from September 22nd to the 27th. “We’re going to see as much funding as is possible and as is allowed whether from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the federal government,” Nutter said at a press conference on the Pope’s visit. “Certainly the focus is to individuals, foundations and corporations.” Asked where the pope will stay, Nutter said, “Wherever he wants.”

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Vatican Confirms: Pope Will Visit Philly

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Photo | Shutterstock.com

The Vatican made it official today: Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia during the World Meeting of Families next year. The announcement had been long expected — even mentioned by Pope Francis himself — but today’s announcement puts the visit firmly on the schedule.


“We look forward to Pope Francis’ arrival in Philadelphia next September and we will welcome him joyfully with open arms and prayerful hearts,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput, the leader of Philadelphia’s Archdiocese.

The Pope made the announcement in Rome during his opening remarks at the Humanum Colloquium. The Humanum Colloquium is a gathering of leaders and scholars, including Chaput, of various religions around the world focused on marriage and family life.

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