“Residents need to treat this event like they would a forecasted snowstorm,” New Jersey State Police warned those in the Philadelphia area last month.
“That means buy your groceries, refill critical medicines, complete your errands before that day. Don’t schedule unnecessary or medical procedures during that period.”
At the end of the month, thousands of people will flood to Washington DC, New York City, and Philadelphia for a chance to see Pope Francis in person. Hosting the pope is no small task. Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter called the papal visit to Philly “the largest event in the city’s history” as an estimated two million people are expected to fill the city’s streets on September 26th and 27th.
This time, however, a few things have changed. The Secret Service issued a list last month detailing prohibited items for those hoping to see Pope Francis. Among many items on this list– which you can find here— are the infamous selfie stick, as well as drones or “other unmanned aircraft systems.”
Pope Francis prefers to visit countries that are less developed which is why it has taken him so long to make it to the US.
When Pope Francis visits other nations, he is usually expected to not only pray for the group of people he has come to see, but he is also expected to speak about problems in the world, particularly human rights.
This time, Pope Francis will be visiting Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia to speak with the inmates. The facility is currently preparing for the Pope’s visit and his large entourage which the facility will have to accommodate.
However, there are still some reservations about Pope Francis’ visit to the United States both from the US’ end and from the Pope’s end as well.
“He’s a little nervous about coming,” said Cardinal Dolan. In the past, the Pope has admired the U.S.’s democracy but has criticized its consumerism.
“I think the Holy Father sees the influence the U.S. has throughout the world and wants to make sure the plight of the poorest people is served,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz.
Ann Richards School senior, Cristina Trevino, also weighed in.
“Generally people receive the Pope pretty well, because even if they aren’t Catholic, he is often seen as this Holy figure. This Pope in particular has had a big voice in media saying ‘hey, this is what the Catholic church is about. This is what we need to fix in society.’ So overall, I think he’ll have a positive receiving,” said Trevino
Many modifications are being made around Philadelphia to better plan for the Pope’s visit. Hotels have been completely booked for months, but until recently, the city had yet to provide a place to stay for the thousands who were not able to get into a hotel. To accommodate for the thousands of people visiting the city, camping will be allowed in Philadelphia’s public parks, which the city had previously prohibited. Additionally, the transit system (SEPTA) will close 251 of its 282 rail stations and will essentially be carting people downtown to see the Pope.
“Philadelphians and visitors should be prepared to walk for miles when the events take place,” said Mayor Michael Nutter. The city is also making plans for continuous trash removal.
“We’re not showing a bad face to the world at a time when this is a very celebratory, important, optimistic event,” Philadelphia city controller Alan Butkovitz said in a statement.
And in this “optimistic” event, many Catholics are hoping the Pope will provide insight into American politics as well.
“I think it’s great that he’s visiting with American people and political leaders to see if he can provide a Catholic perspective for government,” said Trevino. “But who knows if we will listen.”