Philadelphia, March 25, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter addressed the Pontifical Council for the Family in Rome this morning. His remarks are as follows:
“I’d like to recognize Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Bishop Jean Lafitte, Monsignor Carlos Simón Vázquez, leaders of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Bishop John McIntyre, Father Bill Donovan, Governor Corbett and first lady Susan Corbett, and the Philadelphia and PA delegation.
I have the great honor and privilege to make a brief statement in support of our fervent hope that His Holiness might visit Philadelphia during the World Meeting of Families in September 2015.
As a loyal son of Philadelphia, born and raised in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, educated by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at Transfiguration of Our Lord Elementary School and inspired by the Jesuits to be a man for others at St Joseph’s Preparatory high school, the Jesuit High School in Philadelphia, I am often called upon to discuss the exceptional qualities of my great city.
And there are many, but first let me say that I believe a visit of His Holiness to Philadelphia offers both a unique moment in our common history, as well as a signal opportunity to address the core issues of family, love, which sits at the heart of this vital institution, justice and peace and our timeless hope for a better world.
Philadelphia is a city of hope, founded upon a revolutionary idea – tolerance of differences whether religious or otherwise. While the Quakers of William Penn’s era set a tone for discourse and behavior, it was the succeeding generations of immigrants from all over the world who established the city we know today.
By no means was Philadelphia’s history without discord. Sectarian violence, racial and economic conflict – they have all been common themes across the centuries.
And still, the city grew on the strength of its large families living in close-knit communities, dotted with church steeples and myriad places of worship. Today, the faiths and ethnicities in our city mirror the world.
And like our forebears, we face an uncertain future, buoyed by the hope of what technology, science and the marketplace can do for us while challenged by the grinding poverty of so many – adults and children without resources or skills to cope with a fast-changing world.
Philadelphia – a microcosm of our nation and the world – a city of opportunity realized through hard work, and faith, but also one where hopes of far too many remain unfulfilled. Philadelphia is also a city of “can do,” a city of grit, perseverance and determination not to leave anyone behind, a city that won’t turn its back on those who are less fortunate socially or economically and a city that has its arms open to the world and its people.
We Philadelphians are a work in progress, testing new ideas, forming new partnerships, working with anyone who shares our hope for a better future for families, for children and for all our neighborhoods in the city and beyond.
We are the place where America was invented, where a group of innovators came together more than two centuries ago and enshrined an idea – that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.
Coming to Philadelphia, to a region with a rich tradition of Catholic thought and practice, situated on the coast where millions of immigrants came seeking freedom, peace and justice, would be an opportunity for millions of believers and those searching for spirituality to focus on the powerful messages from the World Meeting of Families and His Holiness.
President Obama, who will be here on Thursday, has saluted Pope Francis for being an extraordinarily thoughtful and soulful messenger of people and justice. Not since the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a worldwide voice that has been silenced by terrible violence, have we heard such a powerful worldwide leader as Pope Francis on the issues of human rights, Civil Rights, social justice, discrimination, poverty and the poor. Pope Francis’ message needs to be heard loudly all across America.
As you prepare to receive the economic, financial, military leader of the world in President Barack Obama, we wish to prepare to receive the spiritual leader of the world in his Holiness Pope Francis to Philadelphia, PA. I believe that the arrival of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia offers a moment when the world can and must stand still to listen to the thousands of participants, to listen to our Holy Father and to reaffirm our faith and hope in our common destiny as loving human beings.
On behalf of one and half million in Philadelphia, millions of Catholics and people of many faiths in America, and my mother, I invite you all and his Holiness to Philadelphia.
Philadelphia – the shining city on a hill, a city built upon a hill of hope and faith, challenge and controversy, but surrounded in love – we hold out our hands in friendship and await your arrival.