Mass for archdiocese, visit to prison top pope’s Philadelphia itinerary

By Matthew Gambino
Catholic News Service

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — The first stop for Pope Francis when he arrives Philadelphia the morning of Sept. 26 will be the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul to celebrate a Mass for the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The previously unannounced Mass is part of the pope’s itinerary for his Philadelphia visit announced by the Vatican June 30.

The announcement also included news of the pope’s planned visit with prison inmates of Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in northeast Philadelphia.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput greeted news of the papal schedule "with great joy.?

Another stop on the pope’s visit to the city includes an afternoon address Sept. 26 at Independence Hall, birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

The visit with incarcerated men and women at the sprawling 25-acre Curran-Fromhold facility, the largest in the Philadelphia prison system with 30,000 inmates, underscores Pope Francis’ commitment to extend mercy to the marginalized, including the poor, the sick and, in this case, the imprisoned.

The pope has declared a Year of Mercy in the Catholic Church to begin Dec. 8. It will emphasize the church’s healing ministry to all people "as a field hospital after battle," as the pope has said.

The Mass at the cathedral, the prison visit and the address at Independence Hall join other papal events already announced for Philadelphia, including his attendance at an evening Festival of Families cultural celebration Sept. 26 and the public Mass he will celebrate on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway the afternoon of Sept. 27.

That evening there will be a celebration of the World Meeting of Families for supporters and volunteers at Philadelphia International Airport, followed by an official papal departure ceremony.

The World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, being held Sept. 22-25 in advance of the pope’s visit, is expected to draw 15,000 participants from 150 countries.

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