PHILADELPHIA - The first stop for Pope Francis when he visits
Philadelphia the morning of Sept. 26 will be the Cathedral
Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul to celebrate a special Mass
for the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
The previously unannounced Mass is part of the pope's
itinerary for his Philadelphia visit announced by the Vatican
The announcement also included news of the pope's planned
visit with prison inmates of Curran-Fromhold Correctional
Facility in northeast Philadelphia.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput greeted news of the papal
schedule "with great joy and I'm certain that countless
individuals in our city, our commonwealth, and our country
share that emotion with me."
"As the birthplace of religious freedom, Philadelphia is a
city rich in history and diversity. This itinerary recognizes
the importance of those qualities and the pope's desire to
witness them firsthand," said Philadelphia's archbishop.
Another stop on the pope's visit to the city includes an
afternoon address Sept. 26 at Independence Hall, birthplace
of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
The pope is expected to speak about religious freedom and
immigration, among other possible topics.
The visit with incarcerated men and women at the sprawling
25-acre Curran-Fromhold facility, the largest in the
Philadelphia prison system with 30,000 inmates, underscores
Pope Francis' commitment to extend mercy to the marginalized,
including the poor, the sick and, in this case, the
The pope has declared a Year of Mercy in the Catholic Church
to begin Dec. 8. It will emphasize the church's healing
ministry to all people "as a field hospital after battle," as
the pope has said.
Both the Mass at the cathedral, the prison visit and the
address at Independence Hall join other papal events already
announced for Philadelphia, including his attendance at an
evening Festival of Families cultural celebration Sept. 26
and the public Mass he will celebrate on the Benjamin
Franklin Parkway the afternoon of Sept. 27. That evening
there will be a celebration of the World Meeting of Families
for supporters and volunteers at Philadelphia International
Airport, followed by an official papal departure ceremony
"Pope Francis' plans for his visit to Philadelphia seamlessly
integrate powerful public moments with more intimate
gatherings that are deeply grace filled," Archbishop Chaput
said. "It is an itinerary that says, 'I walk with you - and
so does the Lord.' It says, 'Embrace your faith and embrace
one another as children of God.' It says, 'God forgives.' And
it says 'Come together in celebration.'"
The archbishop called Pope Francis' visit "a true gift for
all regardless of faith tradition."
The World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, being held
Sept. 22-25 in advance of the pope's visit, is expected to
draw some 15,000 participants from 150 countries. Pope
Francis has called the congress "the central reason for his
visit to the United States," Archbishop Chaput said.
The archbishop predicted "the many pilgrims present in
September will experience a moment unlike any in the history
of our city. The presence of the Holy Father will be electric
and charismatic. It has the power to transform all of us in
deeply positive ways. It will be our shared responsibility to
take that gift and use all that we learn from it to build a
better church and a stronger society."
Gambino is director and general manager of CatholicPhilly.com, the
news website of the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
Link to Pope Francis' Cuba and U.S. itinerary.