Last Saturday I returned from visiting friends in Philadelphia where city officials just announced massive new security measures for Pope Francis’ late September visit. A new fence is being constructed that will surround large swaths of central city venues where the Pope will appear.
No automobiles are permitted, causing major inconvenience to residents and restaurant workers alike. Public transit tickets are only available by lottery and attendees are being warned to expect long walks and electronic screenings. All city schools and government offices will be closed.
Even though Philadelphians are among the most enthusiastic of Catholics, I wonder how much these major disruptions will dampen their fervor. While exhaustive security preparations are necessary in a post-9/11 world, they do tend to feed a distressing “papolatry” narrative — idolization that Pope Francis deplores.
On the other hand, if any pope ever deserved to be acclaimed, Francis does.
Our pope is an unusually pastoral man who is passionate about the marginalized and wants us to use ecclesiastical wealth on their behalf…