So, what’s this I hear about the pope coming to Philadelphia?
Yeah, of course I know he’s coming. It’s not because I’m a big fan of the pope, even though this one has the appearance so far of being a bit more down-to-earth than any of his predecessors (unfortunately, that’s still not really anywhere near being down-to-earth in terms of the rest of the world.)
Aside from how important the pope is to millions of Roman Catholic faithful, he also sets an example that isn’t always the best example. Sure, Pope Francis reportedly lives in more austere quarters than the papal apartments inhabited by those who came before him, but even his “austere” circumstances are beyond the reach of common poor folks.
This trip to Philadelphia, for instance, demonstrates an inherent arrogance the important and privileged people of the world have for the rest of us.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard or read about it. Authorities preparing for the pope’s September visit are shutting down major portions of Philadelphia and, it appears, will be making it impossible — not difficult, but impossible — for many “little people” to get to work for a couple of days.
No, really! This is not just me exaggerating to be humorous. Certain public transportation will be by advance pass only. A three-square-mile section of the city will be closed off — you can drive out, but not back in.
And the Ben Franklin Bridge will be closed from Friday afternoon until Monday. You can walk across the bridge, though. I wonder if they’ll be collecting tolls for pedestrians!
I have actually heard people argue that these restrictions will not be oppressive, because they will take place over the weekend. Hello! If you or someone you know works on weekends, please raise your hand!
As I understand it, the pope will be in Philadelphia for a large Catholic gathering and it is the organization staging the event that will actually pay the estimated $45 million all this will cost. Officials insist taxpayers will not pay for any of the extra security or any of the other preparations for the pope’s visit.
I am lucky enough to not have to try to get anywhere special the weekend of the pope’s visit, so I won’t especially miss being able to use the Ben Franklin Bridge or being able to get into downtown Philadelphia.
But the first folks who think they can park in my driveway so they can go see the pope are getting towed, you can bet on that!