Pope Week: Friday
Good morning. Today, Pope Francis is in New York, starting the day with an address to the United Nations and concluding with a mass at Madison Square Garden.
Tomorrow, he arrives in Philadelphia — and for two days, the world’s attention will on us. We got this, people.
Three things to know about the pope’s visit today:
• Philadelphia-based Next City labels the pontiff “the first urbanist pope:” “Pope Francis is history’s first pope from Latin America,” Ariella Cohen writes. “He knows from his experiences in fast-growing, global cities like Medellín and Rio de Janeiro that our shared future depends on finding ways to provide economic opportunity, decent housing and green space to the world’s rapidly multiplying population of city-dwellers.”
Cohen adds: “The ‘people’s pope’ has also made headlines with his love of bicycles and belief in transit over cars.”
• The Los Angeles Times says Philly’s Catholic shrines are doing brisk business this week. “To attract visitors this week, the shrines extended their hours, printed more than 45,000 brochures, created a three-minute commercial and built a new website. They also hosted special events, such as the Wednesday night viewing at St. Rita’s of the remains and major relics of another saint, Maria Goretti. The line for that stretched down the block.”
The paper describes several of them:
At the Neumann shrine in North Philadelphia, visitors can also view the remains of the saint, the fourth bishop of Philadelphia credited with expanding Catholic education in the U.S.
The Miraculous Medal shrine, in the leafy Germantown neighborhood, draws its name from a medallion still worn by Catholics, first made in the 1800s based on a design that St. Catherine Laboure said Mary gave her in a vision.
Another shrine, located outside the city in Bensalem, honors St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress entombed there who spent her fortune — about a half-billion dollars today — to improve the lives of African Americans and Native Americans.
The shrine of St. Rita of Cascia — the Italian nun known as the “Saint of the Impossible” and the “Peacemaker” — began as a parish church dedicated to welcoming Italian immigrants.
• The Washington Post tells the stories of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, two Catholics mentioned by the pope during his address to Congress: “Like the pope, Dorothy Day was criticized for being a Communist when she was a Catholic,” said the Rev. James Martin, who is an editor at large for America magazine, a national Catholic weekly. “Merton was seen as suspect and criticized for being open to dialogue with other religions. With Pope Francis raising him up, we see him for who he is, which is a holy prophet.”
Google searches for both spiked after the pope’s speech on Thursday.
• Bonus thing to know: The Post-Gazette checks in at the World Meeting of Families for a discussion of homosexuality.
The featured speakers included Ron Belgau of Washington state, who is openly gay but committed to living in celibacy out of fidelity to church teachings, and his mother, Beverley Belgau. They spoke on their experience of Mr. Belgau coming out as gay as a young man and her fears, which proved unfounded, that his father would reject him.
He cited an online post he had seen from a 17-year-old gay Catholic. “The church has a lot to say about what I’m not supposed to do,” the youth wrote. “But … I couldn’t find any church document (about) what a gay person is supposed to do with his life. I feel abandoned by the church.”
“The problem isn’t that people don’t know what the church’s teaching is,” Beverley Belgau said. “The problem is we haven’t done enough to help people live it.”
Other speakers during the session, though, seemed to suggest the church should change its teaching.
• Again, tomorrow is when we take center stage. Check out our Complete Pope in Philly Survival Guide to be prepared.