By Mark Abrams
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some 150 business and community leaders were invited to breakfast Tuesday at the Union League by Philadelphia’s papal pitch team — and they were asked to step up and do their part for a possible September 2015 visit by Pope Francis to the city.
Governor Tom Corbett, Mayor Michael Nutter, and Archbishop Charles Chaput talked about their whirlwind trip to Rome a few weeks ago and their very public meeting with Pope Francis on St. Peter’s Square about the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families event.
But it was Chaput who cut right to the heart of the matter.
“I would ask that you consider how you might be willing and able to serve,” Chaput said. “We have many needs in delivering an event of such size and scope and support.”
Nutter said the city is heavily engaged in planning for the event that could bring up to two million people to the city.
“If you can provide help and assistance on logistical support, we will work with you in that regard,” said the mayor. “And, ultimately, this effort does require money.”
As in millions of dollars the group is hoping to raise in the region, as well as solicit thousands of volunteers.
Meantime, Corbett said the historic significance of the pope coming to the birthplace of freedom and religious liberty in America shouldn’t be lost.
“The opportunity to have the pope land here first sends a significant message,” said the governor, “I believe across the country and across the world.”
And while the Vatican hasn’t given a firm thumbs up on a papal visit, the delegation is optimistic after their visit to Rome that Pope Francis has Philadelphia on his radar.