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11 Sep 2014 Vatican Comments (1)

Pope 'deeply saddened' by brutal killing of missionary nuns

Vatican City, Sep 11, 2014 / 02:05 am .- Pope Francis has expressed his condolences following the brutal murder of three Italian nuns in Burundi over the weeken…

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02 Apr 2015 Q&A Comments (3)

Did the Church change its position on the punishment of heretics?

Full Question An anti-Catholic claims that the Church at the Fourth Lateran Council said heretics should be exterminated, but now the Church denies that th…

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08 Sep 2015 News Vatican No comments

Focus on catechesis to curb exodus of young people, Pope advises Portuguese bishops

In a message to the Catholic bishops of Portugal, who were making their ad limina visits to Rome, Pope Francis suggested a new approach to catechesis, noting th…

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12 Oct 2015 Europe News No comments

Italian priest asked to leave town after remarks on pedophilia

An Italian priest who outraged the public by saying that children bear part of the responsibility for pedophilia has been asked to leave the town where he was s…

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20 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (6)

If St. Paul says long hair is unnatural for men, why do our portraits of Jesus show him with it?

Full Question In 1 Corinthians 11:14 Paul tells us long hair is degrading to and unnatural for a man. All the pictures of Jesus show him with long hair, so…

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19 Aug 2016 Q&A No comments

What is liberation theology?

Full Question What is liberation theology? Answer Liberation theology was a theological movement that began in the late 1960s in Latin America.…

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02 May 2016 Americas Asia-Pacific Australia Europe Middle East Middle East - Africa News United Kingdom USA Vatican Comments (1)

Pope Francis' prayer intentions for the month of May

The Vatican has released the prayer intentions of Pope Francis for May 2016. The Pope's universal intention is: “That in every country in the world, women ma…

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13 Dec 2014 Q&A No comments

How can use Scripture to counter Protestant claims about justification?

Full Question The new Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that "justification includes the remission of sins, sanctification, and the renewal of the i…

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21 Aug 2015 Uncategorized No comments

Italian cardinal: Laudato Si’ comparable in importance to Rerum Novarum

In a front-page article in L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Città della Pieve said that Pope Francis’s new encyclical on care for ou…

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Expecting a million for the pope and praying they’ll come

In the videotaped message, Pope Francis issues a personal invitation to pilgrims — “See you in Philadelphia!” — but it remains an open question whether the massive crowd organizers have predicted will turn out to see him.

Despite an “I’ll be there” marketing campaign, a rollback of some travel restrictions and an increase in hotel bookings, signs remain that estimates that up to 1.5 million people would be in town for the pope’s outdoor Mass on Sunday may be too high.

“I look forward to greeting the pilgrims and the people of Philadelphia when I come for the World Meeting of Families,” the pope said in English. “I will be there because you will be there!”

The pope’s appeal was the culmination of a monthlong effort by planners to turn around the public perception that security and travel restrictions — including initial warnings, since dialed back, that visitors would have to walk miles — had made it too much work to come see Francis.

What’s more, the Secret Service said Friday that the mile-long Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the secured site of the pope’s two biggest events, would only fit about 250,000 people. Other visitors will have to watch on jumbo TV screens near the parkway or in other locations around the city, which Church planners said was always the plan.

Heading into the final week before the pope’s US trip, hotels in Philadelphia had more than 1,000 rooms available. Regional transit agency SEPTA had sold only about a third of its papal visit rail passes, and the southern New Jersey commuter rail, PATCO, less than a sixth. PATCO even said it would let pilgrims buy same-day tickets if they want. Charter bus reservations are also a fraction of what was projected.

And a plan to turn Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban green spaces in the nation, into “Francis Fields” campground was scrapped due to a lack of interest.

But getting to the papal events has been made easier in recent weeks.

SEPTA doubled the number of subway stops it will keep open during the visit — including one two blocks from Francis’ Independence Hall speech on Saturday. Once reserved for buses, huge parking lots just across the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey, were opened up to thousands of cars to reduce how far people will have to walk.

Papal visit organizers said they realized they needed to hit the reset button when a satirical security map appeared, showing the city surrounded by lava and guarded by flying pterodactyls.

The result was the “I’ll be there” campaign, complete with posters of a smiling Francis.

After weeks of warning visitors that seeing the pope could be hard work, Mayor Michael Nutter declared: “This city will be the place to be that entire weekend and best of all it will be surprisingly easy to get here to enjoy it.”


The city’s mistake, he said, was not pushing back early enough against some security demands.

Rendell believes the marketing campaign “changed the mood a little bit.”

See you in Philadelphia!
– Pope Francis
“I think they repaired some of the damage,” he said. “Attendance will be strong, but not what it might have been.”

Matters were not helped by the announcement just a few weeks ago that only ticketholders would be able to get within three blocks of the pope when he attends the closing festival of the World Meeting of Families on Saturday and celebrates Mass the next day, both on the parkway.

Responding to a public outcry, event planners made 10,000 tickets available to the public each day. They also announced papal parades both days on the parkway so some non-ticketholders could see Francis close up.

Even with the removal of some travel hurdles, a nearly 5-square-mile area of the city will be barred to incoming traffic during the pope’s visit, about 25 miles of streets and highways will be closed and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge between New Jersey and Philadelphia will be off-limits to all but pedestrians and emergency vehicles.

Philadelphia Archdiocese spokesman Ken Gavin said it was important to tell people early on about some of the travel challenges. “You have to be realistic with folks,” he said.

“The final message is, ‘Come, be here and you will always be glad you (did),’” he said.


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