Pope Francis Will Talk Immigration, Visit A Prison In Philly
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
All over Philadelphia today, there are banners to welcome Pope Francis. The pontiff is in Philadelphia for the final leg of his first trip to the United States. And in Philadelphia, he's expected to talk about immigration and visit with inmates at a local prison. NPR's Jeff Brady joins us from the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, where Francis will celebrate mass today. Jeff, what's been happening?
JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Well, there's going to be a lot of events this weekend, and it's capping off what's called the World Meeting of Families. It's an event that the Catholic Church holds every three years. This time, it's in Philadelphia. The whole focus is on looking at the definition of a family, and a lot of entertainment and classes. And of course, the Catholic Church tends to take a more traditional view of that at a time when the definition of family is changing for a lot of people.
And there's been a lot of planning put into the event over the last year or so just for that meeting. And then when Pope Francis said that he was going to attend the last few days of this conference, the meeting went from, you know, thousands of people here to perhaps more than a million.
SIMON: Jeff, Philadelphia's a tough town. A lot of Catholics there, but they booed Santa Claus in Philadelphia. What are people in Philadelphia saying about the pope?
BRADY: You know, it is a Catholic town, and there - Pope Francis has a lot of fans here. I heard a lot of the things talking to folks outside of the convention center, where that World Meeting of Families is being held, things that we've heard in other places - a lot of admiration for Pope Francis' humility, his talk about the environment and caring for the most vulnerable. But this might be a little bit more conservative crowd, and I heard some consistent themes talking with people. They're a little bit more about conservative social issues, things like opposition to abortion. And, you know, Pope Francis, he doesn't talk about that as much. And Diana Miranda-Bennett, she's here from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and commenting on Pope Francis' popularity, she said she hopes he will unite the Catholic faithful.
DIANA MIRANDA-BENNETT: I would just - would like to think that this will bring all the Catholic people together to fight against abortion and gay marriages and all those things that should not be going on in this Catholic world.
BOBBY BENNETT: Amen.
BENNETT: That's just our opinion. It's just our opinion (laughter).
BRADY: You heard her husband, Bobby Bennett, chiming in there at the end. I asked him about how this pope just seems to have captured the imagination of people who are not even Catholic. And he said he's seen that in his own family.
BENNETT: My daughter, unfortunately, wasn't baptized Catholic, has been glued to the TV, and she's just intrigued with the man. And I think most of the world is intrigued with his mission, whether they're Catholic or not.
BRADY: And Bennett there, he's expressing something I've heard over and over here - people feeling much more confident about the future of the Catholic Church under Pope Francis.
SIMON: What's on the pope's schedule today? There's the mass this morning, then what?
BRADY: There's the mass, and then he's going to go to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary this afternoon. That's before he goes to a big event at Independence Mall. There, he's expected to talk about immigration. We're going to have a lot of Spanish-speaking folks in that audience. And of course, Pope Francis speaks Spanish. And then later this evening, on the parkway in downtown Philadelphia, he's going to visit the folks who've been here attending the festival of the families. Big event tomorrow also, he's going to be visiting a prison, so a very interesting weekend for the pope here in Philadelphia.
SIMON: NPR's Jeff Brady in Philadelphia. Thanks so much.
BRADY: Thank you.
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