Where Will Pope Francis Visit In The U.S.? Here's Hoping The Unpredictable Pontiff's Trip Will Include Some Fun Remarks
Whether or not you are a believer in the faith, when the Pope pays your city a visit, it is guaranteed to be an occasion. But when Pope Francis confirmed visits to New York City, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia during his U.S. stop in the fall, it's almost certain that many of those who typically wouldn't bat an eyelid at the news — myself included — sat up in their chairs and pricked their ears, because the first ever Latin American pope has, without a doubt, been something of a revelation in the Catholic Church.
While Francis has touched upon LGBT rights, atheism, poverty, and minding your own business, among other topics that the church has been historically inflexible on, he has also become somewhat of an international diplomat, his crowning achievement so far in that aspect being his role as broker in the unprecedented thawing of U.S.-Cuba relations.
So while I'd venture to say the pope will be welcome with wider arms than most, what, exactly, should we expect from his visit? Set to visit from Sept. 22 to 27, Francis joked about how he wished he could enter the country from the Mexican border, as it would be a:
[B]eautiful thing, as a sign of brotherhood and of help to the immigrants... You know that [to] go to Mexico without going to visit the Madonna [of Guadalupe] would be a drama. A war could break out. I think there will only be those three cities. Later there will be time to go to Mexico.
Nothing on his itinerary is set in stone, seeing as the Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, emphasized that travel plans were "provisional," but organizers, reported NBC News, were discussing possible appearances at the White House, the United Nations headquarters, and Ground Zero in New York City — and perhaps even a Mass at Madison Square Garden. If a UN visit is confirmed, the pope could drop in on the UN General Assembly meeting — which will take place the same week he's in town — where it's possible he will address world leaders.
The AP reported that the pope's visit to the U.S. will include the canonization of 17th-century missionary Junipero Serra, who set up nine missions in California, while he's in the nation's capital, D.C., probably at the National Shrine.
Francis' tongue-in-cheek remark about Mexico hints at the possibility of him bringing up immigration while on his visit. It's a hot-button issue in the U.S. currently, as one of the new GOP-led Congress' top priorities is challenging President Obama's judicial push for comprehensive immigration reform. And during a quick stop in Strasbourg, France, in November, Francis called out the European Union for lackadaisical conditions for immigrants. He said:
The absence of mutual support within the European Union runs the risk of encouraging... solutions which fail to take into account the human dignity of immigrants, and thus contribute to slave labour and continuing social tensions.
The unpredictable pope might also bring up contraception on his U.S. visit, a constant issue here in regards to struggle for women's rights to their bodies. In a recent comment aboard the papal plane that likely took everyone aback, Francis encouraged "responsible parenting" and told reporters that Catholics need not breed "like rabbits."
Needless to say, Pope Francis' visit is eagerly anticipated.
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