By Pat Ciarrocchi
VATICAN CITY (CBS) — Although a private meeting with Pope Francis was canceled, a delegation from Pennsylvania had the chance to speak with the Pontiff in Rome Wednesday morning.
The delegation, which included Mayor Michael Nutter, Governor Tom Corbett and Archbishop Charles Chaput, spoke with Pope Francis face-to-face for about five minutes in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly audience.
The group is hoping to persuade Pope Francis to travel to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families in September 2015.
Nutter, Corbett and Archbishop Chaput said they were not upset by the cancellation of the private meeting.
They feel that to be able to present Philadelphia to a much broader audience, to be able to present at the general audience, what their concerns are and what their desires are for Philadelphia in September 2015, they felt very happy about the opportunity to be able to do that.
Mayor Nutter says, “He actually made the decision late yesterday or early this morning, to have us where we were seated, receive us on the stage to the podium and in a more public way, demonstrate his love and appreciation for Philadelphia.”
And with gifts in hand, the delegation of political and business leaders exchanged a few words, offered an invitation and encouragement to visit.
Governor Corbett says, “We invited him, along with the Archbishop and the mayor, to come to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. We’d be more than happy to have him there.”
Nutter adds, “He was excited to see the gifts and I think he was excited to see this delegation, in particular. He was just very gracious and thankful. He asked me to pray for him and I said yes, but I need you to pray for me!”
For two hours Pope Francis stayed in the square, embracing babies and Philadelphians, who are eager to have him say yes.
The Pope’s decision on whether he will attend the World Meeting of Families is expected at a later time.