Ed Rendell: Pope Fence “Boggles the Mind”

"I think if the pope knew what was going on, he would be aghast."

Ed Rendell slammed preparations for Pope Francis‘ visit Wednesday morning, saying the plan for a perimeter fence “boggles the mind.”

“The Pope went to Bolivia, Ecuador, and Paraguay and there was no fence,” Rendell said on Angelo Cataldi’s morning show on 94WIP. “It boggles the mind why we have to put up a fence in the United States of America.”

Rendell, who served as Philly mayor in the 1990s before becoming governor of Pennsylvania, was careful to praise Mayor Nutter‘s handling of preparations, but said the Secret Service “has sort of run over the city.”

“The Secret Service has one goal — that the principal or in this case the pope, doesn’t get hurt,” Rendell said. “And they couldn’t care less if nobody showed up and watched the pope, as long as the pope doesn’t get hurt on their watch.”

The much-discussed fence will be built to surround Benjamin Franklin Parkway and parts of Old City where Pope Francis is scheduled to appear. Additionally, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge will be closed much of the weekend — meaning that many visitors, including the elderly, will be expected to walk miles to have a chance of seeing the pope.

“I think if the pope knew what was going on, that seniors are going to be asked if you live in New Jersey to walk four or five miles across the Ben Franklin Bridge up to the Parkway, I think the pope would be aghast,” Rendell said.

But Rendell held out hope that the actual visit will go well.

“I think the mayor has done a good job,” Rendell said of Mayor Nutter. “He’s starting to push back now on behalf of our businesses and behalf of the people, but it’s late and hopefully it will work. We’ve still got a month to go.”

Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.