PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – On Tuesday night, the Vatican canceled a private meeting Gov. Tom Corbett was scheduled to have with Pope Francis in Rome.
But the governor still met the Pope on Wednesday morning with about a hundred thousand on-lookers.
Corbett had hoped for a 45-minute private audience with Pope Francis; but instead, had to settle for just a few minutes during the Pope’s public audience in St. Peter’s Square.
“It was a once in a lifetime meeting,” said Corbett shortly thereafter by telephone. “We did it at the conclusion of a general audience, which there was a hundred thousand people. We were sitting up next to the stage.”
Calling in to KDKA Radio with Marty Griffin, Corbett said he and his wife Susan presented gifts from Pennsylvania to the Holy Father.
“I brought some gifts to him. My wife, we went up and talked to him alone, and he really makes you feel you’re the only people he’s talking to,” said Corbett. “Forget the hundred thousand people in the square behind you. It was just a very, very exciting moment.”
It’s all part of the effort to encourage Pope Francis to visit Philadelphia next year when the World Meeting of the Family meets there.
Popes have attended five of the last seven world meetings; and the governor, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and state leaders went to Rome to meet with Vatican officials and personally encourage the Pope to come.
“Invited him, along with the mayor and the Archbishop, to come to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. More than happy to have him there,” said Corbett.
So, did Pope Francis say, “yes, I’ll come” to the governor?
Corbett today said he wasn’t going to share private conversations on that. The Vatican doesn’t typically announce the Pontiff’s schedule this far in advance.
But the governor said he’s very optimistic that the Pope will be in Pennsylvania next year.
The conference is set for late September 2015, and if Pope Francis is there, you can bet lots of folks from Pittsburgh will trek to Philadelphia.