#PopeReads: Our Favorite Stories About Pope Francis’ Visit From Around the Internet

What they're saying today about Pope Francis, Philadelphia and Pope Francis and Philadelphia.

Pope Francis give the thumbs-up from the popemobile during a parade around the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015.

Pope Francis give the thumbs-up from the popemobile during a parade around the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015.

Each day during his trip, we’ll bring you some of our favorite stories about Pope Francis’ visit to the United States from other media outlets.

In Philadelphia, Putting on a Show for a Holy Headliner,” David Gelles, The New York Times

The Times summarizes the immense planning effort for Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia, but the key quote in this article is from event producer Scott Mirkin:

“City Hall, you know them, man, they’re the Politburo,” he said. “The best thing that could have happened is that the mayor would have gotten up there and said, ‘This camping was the dumbest thing ever.’ But they didn’t want to do that.”

Tickets to camp in the city parks during the pope’s visit, an idea first floated over the summer, went on sale September 9th. The idea was scrapped on September 11th. If only Mayor Nutter had made a speech as good as the one Gavin suggested.

Pope’s arrival fails to bring traffic apocalypse,” Kevin Robillard, Politico

The Pope is currently in Washington, D.C. He is not delivering a public mass like he is in Philadelphia, but huge crowds were expected on transit and the roads. So far …

On social media, many commuters expressed shock at how empty their trains were, some of them tagging their comments with the #popecalypse or #popeindc hashtags. “Easy peasy #WMATA commute. Wishing the pope could move here,” tweeted Kytja Weir, a Center for Public Integrity reporter who used to cover the oft-troubled transit agency.

Don’t get too excited; there are still dire predictions for a later papal motorcade, and no part of the Pope’s visit in Washington will be as big as his mass in Philadelphia.

Pope Francis Cites Victims From Church’s ‘Difficult Moments’,” Meghan Keneally, ABC News

Many Americans have been wondering if the pope would address the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal in the United States. He did … sort of.

“I am also conscious of the courage with which you have faced difficult moments in the recent history of the Church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice,” the pope says in his speech, which he is delivering in Italian.

The Pope also added the Church will “work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated” (again in Italian, though).

Survivors of sexual abuse say Pope Francis hasn’t made enough progress,” Huizhong Wu, Mashable

Victims do not believe Pope Francis has done enough to combat sexual abuse, pointing to several high-ranking Vatican officials.

Juan Carlos Cruz, a sexual abuse survivor and prevention advocate from Chile, told Mashable it was “discouraging” to learn the pope had elected Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz to his inner council of top advisors. Errazuriz, Cruz said, was one of those who had hidden his abuse. […] The biggest problem is that those who have covered up cases of abuse have gone unpunished, Barbara Dorris, the victims outreach director for the survivors network, told Mashable. She points to Cardinal George Pell from Australia, who is now in charge of the Vatican’s finances, as another case.

A small group of protesters stood across the street from a Pope Francis celebration in D.C. yesterday.

Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven,” Michael Day, The Independent (U.K.)

That headline’s a bit of an exaggeration, but Pope Francis continues to be a freewheelin’, cool pope who’s up for talking to whoever — even atheists!

Responding to a list of questions published in [La Republica by founder Eugenio Scalfari], who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience. Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.

Has the Pope ever met one of those American atheists who can’t stop talking about how they don’t believe in God? Who knows if he’d be that nice if he ever had to hold a dialogue with one of them.

How Pope Francis Clashes With Both Democrats And Republicans, In 1 Graphic,” Danielle Kurtzleben, NPR

Pope Francis addresses a joint session of Congress on Thursday. This could be awkward!

[I]f Pope Francis brings up any topic — be it inequality or abortion — he would give it more oxygen, making it a bigger issue in Congress or on the presidential campaign trail. So even if he doesn’t directly change minds, he could meaningfully change the U.S. political conversation.

The Catholic Church is traditionally associated with views (opposition to abortion and gay marriage) that are shared by American social conservatives. But the Pope has instead written, say, encyclicals about the environment. When he addresses Congress today, everyone there is going to disagree with him.

Our Fallible Pope,” Kevin D. Williamson, National Review

Because the pope isn’t visiting the United States to talk solely about the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion and gay marriage, there’s a lot of absolutely hilarious commentary coming from conservatives. But this is #popereads, not #hatereads, and so here’s a rejoinder to the over-the-top commentary coming from conservatives:

So much of the world is Pope Francis that he communicates via Twitter … by which means he recently sent out a request that is characteristic of the man and his public style: “I ask you to join me in praying for my trip to Cuba and the United States. I need your prayers.” The response to this request, particularly from the right, was dispiriting. “I pray for those in Castro’s dungeons whose suffering you callously ignored. Screw you, Peronista pontiff,” wrote one critic. “He’s forfeited his moral authority.” Others, apparently unaware of the actual ministry of Pope John Paul II, averred that Pope Francis’s sainted predecessor would never have met with Communist thugs like the Castros.

Williamson (who I worked for at the revived Evening Bulletin a little over a decade ago) writes that he disagrees immensely with some of Pope Francis’ statements. But he’s not going to tell off the pope over it! I do like the phrase “Peronista pontiff,” though. It’d make a good punk band name.

Where Pope Francis Learned Humility,” Paul Vallely, The Atlantic

Both a #longreads and a #popereads, The Atlantic dives into Pope Francis’ history and how he’s changing the papacy and Catholicism.

“You don’t understand,” said Francis. “Go to the plane. Get the bag. And bring it back here please.” Members of the press, who were already waiting on the plane, soon saw from their windows that Pope Francis was moving purposefully through a crowd of functionaries to the aircraft, carrying a black briefcase in his left hand. This was a story: Popes had never before carried their own luggage.

During an impromptu press conference on the plane an hour and a half later, after the pope had talked at length about young people who had no jobs and who felt discarded by a society in which old people had long been treated as similarly disposable, one reporter asked what was in the briefcase. “The keys to the atomic bomb aren’t in it,” Francis joked. So what did it contain? “My razor, my breviary, my diary, a book to read — on St Therese of Lisieux to whom I am devoted. … I always take this bag when I travel. It’s normal. We have to get used to this being normal,” he added.

From now on, I will think of Francis as The Pope Who Carries His Own Razor.

Pope Francis in Cuba,” Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker

Before hitting the United States, Pope Francis stopped in Cuba. Things are a bit different there.

This morning, standing in the crowd outside the Basílica Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre, a few miles from Santiago, where Pope Francis was giving the third Mass of his visit, I overheard a conversation between a local woman and a security guard. As if trying to break disappointing news, the guard handed her a paper fan decorated with the Pope’s visage, and whispered: “Sorry. A few of these were all I could get. It’s all I could find. There were no T-shirts.”

Meanwhile, here in capitalist Philadelphia we are literally swimming in commemorative pope t-shirts.

Pope Francis Reverses Position On Capitalism After Seeing Wide Variety Of American Oreos,” The Onion

And, finally, the satirical site is the one to knock it out of the park:

Admitting the startling discovery had compelled him to reexamine his long-held beliefs, His Holiness Pope Francis announced Tuesday that he had reversed his critical stance toward capitalism after seeing the immense variety of Oreos available in the United States. “Oh, my goodness, look at all these! Golden Oreos, Cookie Dough Oreos, Mega Stuf Oreos, Birthday Cake Oreos — perhaps the system of free enterprise is not as terrible as I once feared,” said the visibly awed bishop of Rome while visiting a Washington, D.C. supermarket.

Please, no one tell the pope about Oreo Thins.

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