Five Things Philly Needs to Fix Before Pope Francis Gets Here

We've got to do some serious housekeeping to make this place presentable for holy company.


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.”

Because this is the Pope we’re talking about here, and not just any Pope. This is Pope Francis, widely regarded to be a decent, kind human being who wants to make the world a better place. We have to do some serious housecleaning to make a guy like that feel comfortable in a city like this.

Here’s what we need to fix — or at least sweep under the rug in Jersey — before September 2015.

I-95 Construction

Think of all the awful, sadistic things you wish upon your hometown and fellow man while sitting in gridlock traffic near the Allegheny exit. Now imagine a man with a direct line to God thinking the same things. We need all lanes open on 95 before this place erupts into flames.

Philadelphia sports fans – all of you

And not because of the Santa-booing or battery-throwing or any other tired tropes about Philly fans — let’s move on already. But because you people are a fickle, dramatic, insufferable bunch who lose your shit every time a newly anointed hero has the nerve to break a collarbone. Spoiler alert: Jesus dies, and you have to act like an adult about it.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Do you want to be the one who has to explain to His Holiness that Sweet Dee is funny because Sweet Dee is real? Me neither. Either block FXX for the duration of his visit, or replace Sunny with wholesome Boy Meets World reruns. (Fun fact: That show was also set in Philadelphia, despite the abundance of trees and hope.)

Century 21

You can make an argument that the Gallery — like Philly Jesus and Milton Street — is one of those homegrown weirdos that makes this city tick. But you simply cannot extend that argument to Century 21, a New York import that recently turned the former Strawbridge’s space into a well-realized, fast-burning 10th Circle of Hell. We the people cannot handle discounted Jessica Simpson handbags — not now, not ever.

The Archdiocese

Most Philadelphia Catholics are good, hard-working people who want what’s best for their families and their neighbors. A few of them even believe in God. But the Church’s leadership has proven that, at best, it’s criminally clueless and indifferent to the wellbeing and safety of our children — as is the trend with schools in our fair city. Keeping these guys away from Pope Francis won’t be easy, but a block of suites at the Borgata says it’s possible.

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