With Philadelphia bracing for the Big Visit in September, the granddaddy of Catholic bloggers, Rocco Palmo, is interviewed in the new issue of Philadelphia magazine.
You’ve got to be pretty happy that the Pope’s actually coming to town. Oh, ecstatic, ecstatic. And especially this pope. Because this guy has just reinvigorated, as a complete surprise, the Church, the Church’s witness, the Church’s message. There hasn’t been much focus on it, but the papal visit here is coinciding 10 years to the week with the first grand jury report. The whole reason the World Meeting of Families and the papal visit are coming is because the consensus in Rome is, “Philly is too big to fail.” And these famously loyal and faithful people, who have endured so much, deserve a happy day. I’m a liberal agnostic who welcomes what he sees from this pope — but he’s really not a liberal agnostic, is he? Nothing in the teaching of the Church has changed. The ban on women priests will remain, the ban on contraception will remain. But out of nowhere, somebody who was always a very somber, very dour person in Argentina has become this smiling, beaming global phenomenon. It’s not a question of the substance, but a question of the tone. What will that mean for Philly? The golden era of this city — it’s no accident that those were also the golden days of the Church here. Strong communities made a strong Church. If the Church here fails, the city fails. The rebuilding, the renewal, is not just a project for Catholics; it’s a project for all of us together, because when the Church wins, all of us win. And what will it mean for you? You’re going to have to mop me up if I get to meet him.
Below, a close encounter with Rocco from a couple years back in Indianapolis with Elizabeth Scalia. We all clean up nicely, don’t we?