Pope Francis: Why Did You Leave Us Hanging?

There was a lot of fanfare before a delegation of Pennsylvania politicians left recently to go to Italy for a purported meeting with Pope Francis.  In an unlikely pairing, Governor Tom Corbett and Mayor Michael Nutter put any differences aside and formed a unified front for this trip.  The object of their desire was an audience with the Pope to pitch a potential visit for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015.  A planned visit by the Pope would be an economic windfall for the city and a boost for the Catholic religion.

I remember when Pope John Paul cam to Philadelphia back in the 1980's.  He rode down Broad Street in a bullet proof car.  It was a sight to behold.  I wasn't aware of the economic impact at the time but it must have been substantial.  Pope Francis has been setting a busy pace since he has been in office.  He has been a trail blazer with regards to reaching out to the poor.  He might be a little more lenient towards our gay or lesbian citizens also.  Our A Team was prepared to deliver a serious pitch.  I know that they rehearsed their lines and agreed to be of one accord in the room.

It started to leak out yesterday that the Pope was not going to afford a private meeting with the Pennsylvania delegation.  They would have to sit in the public audience that he would address and maybe get a few words in edgewise.  The Mayor is quoted as saying that he was able to relay a few words about his Mother and Philadelphia in the combined six minutes that the Pennsylvania delegation received with the Pope.  He mentioned the photo opportunities that wouldn't have happened in a private meeting.  I don't think that photo opportunities were the objective of the meeting.  A solid commitment on coming to Philadelphia was the goal and it didn't happen.

The Governor was not at all disappointed either.  I am just wondering about traveling all of that way, with the business leaders and Catholic luminaries in tow, to meet for less than ten minutes.  Couldn't someone have impressed upon the Pope the importance of this proposed meeting?  Didn't our travel planners book this meeting on his calendar a couple of months in advance?  Maybe our delegation jumped the gun in an effort to sell the merits of Philadelphia and a potential visit.  I know, in spite of the comments of satisfaction, that the brief public meeting with the Pope was disappointing.

It is reported that President Obama will be visiting the Pope on Thursday of this week.  I wonder how many minutes of his time the Pope will allot for one of the most powerful leaders in the world?  I don't know what the outcome of the visit will be.  I don't think the Pope will be offering foreign police advice.  It is said that the Pope and the President share common views on the issue of income inequality.  He did meet with Pope Benedict also.  I just want to see at least a civil lunch meeting between the two.  Maybe Barack can advocate for the Philly contingent in his few minutes.  I still am a little miffed for the Pennsylvania delegation. Hopefully, the trip was not all for naught.

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