Mayor Nutter, Archbishop Chaput, Governor Corbett meet with Pope Francis at Vatican

Watch the report from Action News' Brian Taff.
March 26, 2014 8:41:33 PM PDT
A local delegation including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter spoke with Pope Francis in Rome Wednesday.

Nutter along with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Archbishop Charles Chaput travelled to Rome on Sunday to work with Vatican officials on the eighth World Meeting of Families slated for September 2015 in Philadelphia.

They are hoping Pope Francis will agree to attend the event.

The three officials met with the pope during Wednesday's public audience in St. Peter's Square which took place just after 6:00 a.m. EDT.

For the delegation this was the culmination of weeks of planning, and days of meetings and they were wowed by the moment.

"This is way beyond anything I could have ever imagined whether as a kid or even as a public service," said Mayor Nutter.

"It was one of the biggest honors I've ever received," said Governor Corbett.

The meeting was originally supposed to be a private one, inside the papal apartment, but in a last minute change, the Vatican moved the reception here, to Francis' weekly General Audience.

Though it may have meant less time with the Pope to lobby for his attendance at next year's World Meeting of Families, the delegation saw the move as an important and telling one. It was a way to signal to the world that he intends be there.

"They made the decision themselves as to how they wanted us presented in a more public way and so we are ecstatic about what happened, how it happened, could not have been better," said Mayor Nutter.

Each member of the Philadelphia group got several minutes with the pope and many of them presented him with gifts.

Corbett and his wife presented the pope with a series of tiles representing the Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - prior to speaking with him.

Those tiles made at the Moravian Tile Works in Doylestown. Back in Pennsylvania, word they were given as papal gifts was a real surprise.

"That's fantastic! I didn't know. When I heard it I was like, 'The Pope? Like the Pope!" said Jese Pham, artisan.

"That it was formed into the apostles Mathew Mark Luke and John and that he looks at that and can feel much closer to Bucks County and to Pennsylvania and forward the missing that the governor and mayor were on today," said Chairman Robert Loughery, Bucks County Commissioner.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter also had a few minutes with the pope.

"An honor to give Pope Francis a Liberty Bell, SJP/Phillies/Eagles/Sixers/Flyers/Union jersies, PHL pins and VisitPhila gift book from Phila!" Nutter tweeted afterward.

Nutter also approached Pope Francis with a jersey from St. Joseph's Prep. The back of the jersey reads, "Pope Francis" with the number "1."

He also handed himthis letter from St. Joseph's Prep students.

There was plenty of school pride when word and pictures arrived showing the pope received his personalized jersey.

If Pope Francis does come to next year's World Meeting of Families, the hope is that the first Jesuit pope will visit this Jesuit high school.

"We would love it a lot if he could come here and see our school. A Jesuit education at a Jesuit school, he gets it, we get it. It would be great if he could come here," said Jack Garvey, student.

Meanwhile, the pope's decision to attend the 2015 gathering is expected to be made at a later time.

Vatican officials say they do not make this type of decision this far out for a number reasons, not least of which is the pope's security.


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