Pope Francis in Philadelphia: Five things to watch on Saturday
PHILADELPHIA — Looking at Pope Francis’ schedule is enough to make you tired, but after a busy week in Washington and New York, there is no slowing down for the popular pontiff.
Francis now turns to Philadelphia for a jam-packed weekend. Here’s what to watch for Saturday.
1. Shutdown mode
America’s fifth-largest city is treating his visit much like a major weather event — shutting down roads, sending out alerts and stockpiling supplies, CNNMoney’s Heather Long reports.
Many businesses are simply closing through the weekend.
Starbucks, on the other hand, is stockpiling supplies. (The sound you just heard is the collective cheer of 7,000 journalists.)
Pennsylvania and Philly are setting up portable bathrooms and extra water stations at rest stops on the highways into the city and around town.
Estimates are that the World Meeting of Families will draw more than 1 million visitors.
Francis will celebrate Mass on Saturday at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul with local priests and nuns.
It will be a spiritual boost for the city’s clergy, who have been battered in recent years by sexual abuse scandals, parish mergers and school closings.
3. Independence Mall
Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput says he personally petitioned the Pope to speak about religious freedom during his visit to the city.
Francis obliged, but also added another topic to his highly anticipated address: immigration.
It’s an issue the Pope has mentioned on almost every stop during his six-day trip to the United States, often in extremely personal terms.
It will interesting to see how Francis addresses religious freedom, considering the U.S. bishops’ bruising battle over gay rights.
4. The stars come out
Before the Pope addresses the Festival of Families on Saturday night, several celebrities will entertain the crowd.
Comedian (and devout Catholic) Jim Gaffigan will tell some jokes, gospel and soul great Aretha Franklin will sing a song or two and actor Mark Wahlberg, also a Catholic, will emcee the event.
5. Where the Pope sleeps (if he sleeps)
When Pope Francis takes a break, he’ll be resting up at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary — home to 130-plus seminarians. The sprawling, picturesque campus is on Philadelphia’s Main Line.
Saint Charles is part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which last month announced the seminary’s enrollment had grown threefold. Twenty new seminarians entered this fall, compared to seven the year before. It’s the largest increase in more than a decade.
Coming two years after Francis’ election, could the uptick in wannabe priests be linked to the Pope’s popularity? CNN’s Jessica Ravitz spent time with Chris Massaro, one of nine men taking part in their “Spiritual Year” at Saint Charles — one stop in a seven-year journey to become priests — to get a read on the “Francis effect.”