June 30, 2015
The Vatican has released Pope Francis' long-awaited itinerary for his historic visit to Philadelphia.
It was already known that Pope Francis would be in Philadelphia on Saturday, Sept. 26, for the World Meeting of Families and then would hold a Mass expected to bring around 1.5 million to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway the next day.
He will now also visit prisoners and their families at a correctional facility and give an address on religious liberty and immigration.
Here is the schedule as released by the Vatican Tuesday:
• Private arrival: Atlantic Aviation
• The Cathedral Mass with Pope Francis: The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul
• Greeting of the Holy Father by the seminarians of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary: Exterior front steps of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.
• “We Hold These Truths… :” Independence Hall (Outdoors, overlooking Independence Mall). An address by Pope Francis (Expected themes: religious liberty and immigration)
• The Festival of Families: The Benjamin Franklin Parkway
• Address to cardinals and bishops attending World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015: Saint Martin’s Chapel at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.
• Visit with prisoners and select families: Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia.
• The Papal Mass: The Benjamin Franklin Parkway (Projected: 4 p.m. EST)
• A Celebration of World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 Supporters + Volunteers: Atlantic Aviation
• Official departure ceremony: Atlantic Aviation
Which events will require passes is still to be determined. The Festival of Families (Saturday, Sept. 26) and the Papal Mass (Sunday, Sept. 27) on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway are open to the public.
“We’ve been eagerly anticipating today’s news from the Vatican today since it was announced last November that Pope Francis would be with us for the World Meeting of Families," said Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. "I received formal word of the schedule for the Holy Father’s two days in Philadelphia 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. As the Holy Father has said, The World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia is the central reason for his visit to the United States. That’s something we can all be proud of and I’m confident that the impression we leave will be lasting and positive."
Mayor Michael Nutter said it was an important step that the public had the itinerary.
“This will be an incredible couple of days for Philadelphia,” Nutter said. “To really shine not only for the nation, but for the world.”
At the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Race Street, Bishop John J. McIntyre addressed the pope's upcoming schedule. One of Francis' first stops will be at the cathedral where he will give a Mass. The capacity of the building is just 1,600.
"We have to miraculously divvy up the cathedral between all the people who make up the archdiocese of Philadelphia so the entire church is represented at that Mass," said McIntyre.
He added that the pope's Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be a great opportunity for a large audience to see him.
"It just opens up that Mass for a much wider participation," McIntyre said.
Will the pope make any unannounced stops? McIntyre hinted at how that might work.
"Well the Holy Father does have a tendency to make stops along the way," he said. "I would suspect that they are probably going to be stops when he is already at the events that are scheduled."
“The pope mobile could stop and he could greet someone in the crowd who has a child, if he sees someone who is handicapped or has a disability or is sick he might stop to bless that person.”
At a separate press conference outside of Independence Hall, Nutter said he was pleased with the pope's message.
“I think what he has demonstrated to the world is he cares about those who are left out, locked out or in this particular instance locked up and recognizes their potential,” said Nutter.
“It is no surprise he would want to go to a prison.”
Dona Farrell, the executive director of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, said that she viewed the pope’s visit as more “pastoral” instead of political.
“This is about those who are marginalized those who may find their way more difficult in our country,” Farrell said.
Louis Giorla, Commissioner of Prisons, said he was pleased the pope was going to visit the prison and that while the details weren't fully worked out, he hoped Pope Francis would provide support to those behind bars. Giorla added that they were still determining which prisoners were going to have the opportunity to see him.
The families of some of the prisoners are also expected to meet the pope, he said.
"The numbers will be defined by the space," Giorla said. "We are thrilled, we are excited."
It was also announced Tuesday that Pope Francis will address a joint session of the U.S. Congress, the first pope to do so, on his much anticipated Sept. 19-27 trip to Cuba and the United States and meet Cuban president Raul Castro in Havana.
His itinerary includes stops in Havana, where he meets Castro on Sept. 20, Holguin and Santiago in Cuba before going to Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia. He will meet with U.S President Barack Obama at the White House on Sept. 23.
Under Francis, the first pope from Latin America, the Vatican mediated last year's resumption of diplomatic ties between Washington and Havana after more than half a century.
In New York, he will address the United Nations, participate in an inter-religious service at the Ground Zero site of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, and meet immigrants and their children at a school in Harlem.