Airport Braces for Pope’s Visit

Some good news in all those panic-inducing stories about preparations for the pope’s visit: USA Today reports the Philadelphia International Airport seems to be on pace in its readiness for the influx of travelers it expects that weekend.

“We are talking with airlines that service PHL about their anticipated passenger loads. As of now we expect an estimated 20 percent to 25 percent more passengers than usual,” said airport spokeswoman Mary Flannery. “This would be comparable to a very busy Thanksgiving.” Read more »

Philadelphia, Quit Your Pope Whining Now!

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 Passes: Back to Square One — Now With a Lottery

SEPTA Pope Map, updated 7/20/2015

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 »

LGBT Catholics Seek Meeting With Pope


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 »

Bucks County Township Declares “State of Emergency” for Pope’s Visit

The pope’s appearance in Philadelphia iis expected to have a major impact on Middletown’s Woodbourne SEPTA train station. | Google Maps

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 »

Why Pope Francis’ Visit Might Be Philly’s Biggest Challenge Ever

Pope Benedict celebrated Mass at Yankee Stadium in 2008. He did it the easy way.|

Pope Benedict celebrated Mass at Yankee Stadium in 2008. He did it the easy way.| Everett Collection /

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.
Read more »

World Meeting of Families Announces Film Festival, Mobile App

The World Meeting of Families is really embracing the culture Philadelphia has to offer.

In a press release today issued by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, it was announced that the World Meeting of Families (WOMF) will host a film festival during the week of the WMOF Congress (Sept. 22-25). A partnership with IBM has also led to a mobile application designed to improve visitor experience for those coming to Philadelphia for the WMOF Congress and papal visit (Sept. 26-27).

Read more »

World Meeting of Families Official Hymn Not a People Pleaser

The news that there’s an Official Hymn of this fall’s World Meeting of Families got us all excited — until we listened to it online, that is. Talk about your sleeper hits. “Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom” has lyrics by South Philly native Andrew Ciferni, a member of the Norbertine community at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, set to music by Normand Gouin, the former music director at Old St. Joseph’s National Shrine in Society Hill — the oldest Roman Catholic church in the country. Commenters online haven’t exactly been kind.

There are the full-scale critics:

Seems a pity the words are lost in a melody that drags, very repetitive, makes you think of a funeral, and is very dated.

[T]his Hymm is not what I associate with a Papal event.

 There are those who beseech Gouin to pick up the beat:

The melody is lethargic.

I would take it up tempo just a hair.

I would speed it up a little …

There are those who hate the lyrics: Read more »

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