Pope Week: Sunday!
The city has apparently split into two factions, so we’ll write opening sentences for each group:
• Welcome to Philadelphia, where we’re thrilled to be hosting Pope Francis as he celebrates Mass on the Parkway today!
• Welcome to Philadelphia, where we’re put out by the security checkpoints and business disruptions and we’re ready for the pope to just go away, already!
That cover it?
Today is the pope’s last day in Philadelphia, and the last day of his larger trip North America. On his public schedule:
- 9:15 a.m. Meeting with bishops at St. Martin’s Chapel, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
- 11:00 a.m. Visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility
- 4:00 p.m. Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families, Benjamin Franklin Parkway
- 7:00 p.m. Visit with organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families, Atlantic Aviation
- 8:00 p.m. Departure for Rome
Here are three things to know about Pope Francis in Philadelphia today:
• Pope Francis went wildly off-script during his comments at Saturday night’s concert for the World Meeting of Families. His prepared text was much more political. The Guardian reports that Pope Francis nearly let his inner Bernie Sanders out:
The pastoral address ignored the culture wars and instead veered between piety, homespun advice and laughs – including a line about mothers-in-law. It was a radical, unexpected departure from a prepared text, released to the media under embargo beforehand, which would have been his most politically explicit speech in his six-day US tour, which ends on Sunday.
In the text, which papal officials released for publication after the concert, Francis suggested the US had endangered its future by failing to support the poor with jobs and welfare programs. It called on Americans to embrace an idea beloved by Democrats and abhorred by Republicans: expand government support for housing, healthcare and workers’ rights.
Intentionally or not, the pontiff’s politically tinged address would have bolstered his progressive reputation, even though traditional Catholic social doctrine has long espoused access to housing, medical aid and work.
Will that speech show up in any other remarks he makes today? We’ll be listening.
• The Washington Post takes a close look at the Curran-Fromhold prison where Pope Francis will visit today.
The pope has made serving the disenfranchised and forgotten, the sick, the poor, immigrants and inmates, a cornerstone of his ministry. He has written letters to prisoners. On the first Holy Thursday after his election as pontiff, Francis washed the feet of inmates at a juvenile detention center in Rome, an act he repeated in April, entreating priests to spend more time in “the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters.”
Curran-Fromhold, which opened two decades ago, is officially known as CFCF but is referred to by virtually all visitors, long-term and fleeting, as “up on State Road,” the Northeast Philadelphia boulevard that is home to the city’s massive correctional complex that houses more than 8,000 prisoners and employs more than 2,500. A 2010 Pew study found that Philadelphia spent 7 cents of every tax dollar on incarceration, about $290 million with benefits.Catholics represent an eighth of the city’s prison population, which is 70 percent African American and more than a third Muslim. Another third of the inmates belong to other Christian denominations.
• Even outsiders think Philly went a little overboard on the security. “There’s no doubt that Pope Francis’ safety has to be paramount,” Rem Rieder writes at USA Today. “But could he have been protected in a less disruptive way, as he was in D.C. or New York? Yes, he had a couple of very public events in Philly. And certainly the city has far less experience hosting world leaders than those other two cities. But it’s hard to see why keeping cars out of areas far from papal appearances and shutting down bridges was essential.”
Rieder adds: “I’m no expert on security, and I don’t know precisely what the Secret Service insisted on. But common sense suggests there had to be a better way.”
And please: Follow our live coverage of the pope’s visit throughout the day.