Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett had been hoping to have a significant amount of time to "sell" Philadelphia to Pope Francis. However, it seems that the Holy See is not going to be able to spend any private time with the governor, or the entourage of civic and corporate leaders he took with him to Rome. No official explanation was given for the change in plans.
Initially, it was anticipated that the delegation from the Keystone State would be given close to an hour to speak with the Pope about his possible attendance at the Eighth World Meeting of Families - a Vatican-sponsored event that will be hosted by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2015. Previous popes have attended this event with regularity, so it was hoped that Pope Francis would choose to make an appearance as well.
But Meg Kane, communications coordinator for the much-ballyhooed trip to Rome, sent word out at about 11:30 p.m. Rome time that the delegation would not be meeting with Francis at his residence, as had been long planned.
Rather, she said, the mayor, governor, and other public and corporate leaders and their spouses would be presented to the pope during Wednesday's regularly scheduled public audience in St. Peter's Square. There, Kane said, each would be able to present gifts to Francis if they have them, and speak "a few words" with him.
She did not explain the change in plans.
Any comments on this change in plans can be expected later from the Pennsylvania delegation. They are still scheduled to host a press conference during the day on Wednesday. Corbett undoubtedly is hoping to secure a confirmation from Pope Francis that he will attend the event in Philadelphia. It can only help in his re-election bid this fall.