They Believed What? Eight Philly Religious Fanatics


Photo illustration by Alyse Moyer. Source images via Shutterstock and Jeff Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

For all the mountains of fuss being made over Pope Francis’s impending visit, you’d think we’d never seen a holy man hereabouts. Not true! Pennsylvania was founded as a haven for heretics, so it shouldn’t be surprising that its major city has been home to some curious religious figures in its 333 (oooh, that’s half of 666!) years of history. Here are eight of the most intriguing local believers — and what they’ve believed. Read more »

Getty Images Investigating Perry Milou’s $1 Million Pope Painting

Papal Plagiarism?:  Franco Origlia's photo of Pope Francis (left, via Getty Images); Perry Milou's $1 million painting (right, via Peter Breslow Consulting & Public Relations)

Papal Plagiarism?: Franco Origlia’s photo of Pope Francis (left, via Getty Images); Perry Milou’s $1 million painting (right, via Peter Breslow Consulting & Public Relations)

With the pope’s Philadelphia visit quickly approaching, anyone with an ounce of hustle is trying to cash in. There’s Holy Wooder beer, Pope Francis onesies and even a $1 million pope Pop art-style painting by none other than Perry Milou, son of restaurateur and former federal prisoner Neil Stein. But now the international photo agency Getty Images is investigating Milou’s pricey pontiff portrait due to its similarity to a Getty photograph. Read more »

SEPTA Offers Optimism, Map for Pope’s Visit


“Nothing gets you closer to the pope than SEPTA.”

Those were the exact words of SEPTA general manager Joseph M. Casey during a Thursday briefing, and he backed it up with some stats. He said all of SEPTA’s dropoff locations were within a 2-mile walk of what’s now being called the “Francis Festival Grounds.” Pope Francis arrives here for the end of the World Meeting of Families on September 26th and 27th.

“None of these distances are marathon walks,” Casey said. “When you exit 30th Street [Station], you can actually see the Art Museum… we hope you use SEPTA to see the pope.” The longest

Casey also said there are still more than 100,000 Regional Rail passes available available for $10. They are currently on sale at departure stations. Casey said that “there’s plenty of capacity out there.” Norristown High-Speed Line passes are available at 69th Street Terminal. Read more »

Mayor Nutter: Don’t Worry, Be Happy About the Pope’s Visit!


Maybe you’re not all that jazzed about Pope Francis’ visit next month. You’re not sure how you’re going to get to work, what with the road closures and limited SEPTA service. Or you’re unconvinced the event is worth all the trouble that the city is going to. Or you just don’t like crowds.


That was the general message of a press conference Wednesday held by Mayor Michael Nutter, World Meeting of Families executive director Donna Farrell, and other officials. “Now is the time for all of us to get excited!” said a totally stoked Farrell. “Now is the time of all of us to declare, ‘I’ll be there!'” Read more »

Reading Terminal to Open During Pope Visit


After much debate, the Reading Terminal Market will remain open during the World Meeting of Families and visit from Pope Francis.

The market will keep its normal hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Sept. 21-24 (Mon.-Thurs.) and remain open an hour later on Sept. 25 and 26 (Fri. and Sat.). It opens an hour earlier than normal on Sunday Sept. 27, but closes two hours earlier than normal. Read more »

Catholic Org: Pope Visit Being Organized by Pro-Choice Politicians

From the Lepanto Institute's report on ties between the World Meeting of Families and Planned Parenthood.

From the Lepanto Institute’s report on ties between the World Meeting of Families and Planned Parenthood.

A key leader for the World Meeting of Families has come under attack from a conservative Catholic “investigative group” that says he donated campaign funds to pro-abortion candidates.

The Lepanto Institute said Robert J. Ciaruffoli, currently listed as chairman (but sometimes listed as president) of WMOF’s board of directors, has, in various years, given campaign donations to Allyson Schwartz, Chaka Fattah, Bob Brady, Joe Biden, and Bill Richardson — all pro-choice Democrats. (The donations can be affirmed at the Federal Election Commission website.) The donation to Schwartz, a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic before her stint in Congress, was singled out for criticism.

“The Church simply can’t afford to have event leaders so cozy with Planned Parenthood’s political cheerleaders,” said Michael Hichborn, the Virginia-based Lepanto Institute’s president. He sent the story out to reporters with the headline: “President of World Meeting of Families Funded Planned Parenthood Director’s Political Campaign.”

Ciaruffoli did not respond to a call and email for comment. Read more »

Most Americans Completely Oblivious to Pope’s Philly Visit

Gabriel Sozzi/Wikimedia Commons

Gabriel Sozzi/Wikimedia Commons

Yes, the city of Philadelphia has been a wee bit stressed lately about the impending visit of Pope Francis. It may not surprise you to find out the rest of the country isn’t so worked up — hey, they’re not hosting — but it is interesting to note that most Americans simply have no idea that he’s coming. At all.

A survey released today by the Public Religion Research Institute indicates that 52 percent of Americans — a majority! — “have heard nothing about the pope’s upcoming visit to the U.S.” About a third of Catholics had no idea. (Henceforth, they will be referred to as: “Bad Catholics.”)

The survey touched on other issues affecting the church, including some that might have some resonance locally. Some highlights: Read more »

Archbishop Charles Chaput: The Hardliner

Photograph by Matt Rourke/AP Images

Photograph by Matt Rourke/AP Images

All Pat Smiley wants is a chance to meet with him, to make her case, to be heard — that’s all any of them want, really. But Archbishop Charles Chaput, the head of Philadelphia’s Catholic Church, can be a difficult man to pin down. There have been dozens of closings of Philadelphia Catholic churches since 2010. Some of these churches haven’t been well-attended for many years, and Church coffers have been in steep decline; no one disputes that the local archdiocese has serious financial problems, though no one except Church bean counters knows all the numbers. There are also other problems, of course: the sexual-abuse scandal of the last decade, on top of a Church that operates more and more at odds with contemporary culture — especially concerning the “pelvic issues,” meaning acceptance of gays and birth control and women priests and allowing male priests to marry. There is great doubt and unrest even among the remaining faithful.

Pat Smiley’s church — St. Joachim, the oldest Catholic church in the Northeast — closed two years ago. She still doesn’t really know why. Read more »

Local Pope Lookalike Makes Tees and Tiny Onesies Honoring Pope’s Philly Visit


Image via Facebook.

In the weeks leading up to Pope Francis’s visit, people creating papal memorabilia are coming out of the woodwork (and creating actual woodwork, like this, which is pretty cool). But one artist stands out, mostly because, well, he sort of looks like Pope Francis. (See above. Catch the resemblance? No? A little bit? A lot?)

That’s artist Brett Bender, and he’s designed a t-shirt and onesie to commemorate the Pope’s visit to Philly. See them all here; they retail for $20 (sizes over XL go up to $25). Because if you’re going to buy a commemorative t-shirt, you should buy one made by a Philadelphian. Tip: Enter code ‘joeyobama’ to get free shipping.

Amtrak Announces Pope Plan: Beefed-Up Service, Reservations Required

Amtrak | Shutterstock. Pope Francis | giulio napolitano /

Amtrak | Shutterstock. Pope Francis | giulio napolitano /

Amtrak is beefing up its service into Philadelphia for the pope’s visit, the agency said Friday, but there will also be temporary restrictions on travel, and the ripple effect is expected to be felt throughout the Northeast Corridor between New York and Washington D.C..

Also, they’re closing the bathrooms at 30th Street Station that weekend. (Don’t worry: There’ll be some portable facilities positioned outside.)

According to Amtrak: Read more »

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