It was an eerie way to start the day.
At 3 a.m., I started the trek from my Center City Philadelphia hotel to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where I would catch the bus to the airport to watch Pope Francis’ arrival in the City of Brotherly Love on Saturday morning.
It was still dark, of course, and it had the look of a war zone. There were barricades everywhere. There were security checkpoints. There were fences making some streets completely inaccessible. And everywhere there were police, and TSA agents, and all other flavors of law enforcement personnel.
Hours later, I was at Philadelphia International Airport, where delighted students from the band from Bishop Shanahan in suburban Downingtown serenaded the pope with the theme from Rocky and Don’t Stop Believin‘. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience. I’m so excited,” one of them, piccolo player Kristen Loughlin, told me.
And there you have it, the two sides of the Philadelphia pope coin. It is a wonderful opportunity for people, from the city and the suburbs to all across the nation and beyond, to experience firsthand a pope who has electrified the world with his humanity, his humility and his love. His very presence was another step, an important one, inPhilly’s impressive progress toward becoming a world class city.