Spoofing the Mayor's Pope Trip - NBC 10 Philadelphia

A little mind candy for the middle of your day

Spoofing the Mayor's Pope Trip



    Spoofing the Mayor's Pope Trip
    Vatican TV
    March 26, 2014: Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter presenting Pope Francis with a replica of the Liberty Bell.

    No, it's not true.

    Philadelphia councilman Mark Squilla did not upstage the mayor and entire delegation that traveled to Rome last month.

    Although, you might have thought so if you pay attention to Councilman Jim Kenney on social media.

    On Tuesday, Kenney, who has been critical of the Vatican trip, mocked the mayor's meeting with Pope Francis.

    "We were spoofing, having a little fun," Kenney said, pointing out that the conversation was even more fun on his personal Facebook page, in the comment section of this post:

    My friend and colleague Mark Squilla told me he had a great PRIVATE audience with Pope Francis and Francis told Mark that he is coming to Philly and can't wait to have lunch with him at El Vez! The Pope loves Stephen Starr!

    Councilman Squilla is actually in Rome on a family vacation, visiting one of his kids who is studying abroad. But he did not plan for, or get any one-on-one time with the pope.

    "Before he left, we were kind of laughing and talking about what it'd be like if that did happen and we figured Mark would bring like a South Philly flair," Kenney said, which probably inspired this answer to some of the comments by his followers:

    Sorry, Mark and the Pope have really hit it off! Squilla didn't bring some microscopic Liberty Bell as a gift. No, Mark brought a bottle of home made limoncello, a home made sopressata from one of his aunts and an autographed book, "You Only Rock Once" by the Geator! The Pope was thrilled! He remembers tossing Blavat out of a club in Buenos Aires in 1960.So, Councilman Squilla has sealed the deal! Thanks, Mark!

    "Sarcasm is sarcasm," Kenney said, insisting that he's not taking jabs at the mayor.

    Mayor Michael Nutter and his Chief of Staff, Everett Gillison, traveled with more than a dozen other delegates to the Vatican in March to meet the pope and help plan for 2015 World Meeting of Families which will be held in Philadelphia next year. Kenney views the trip as a waste of time and money. (A non-profit paid for the trip, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.)

    "That trip was unnecessary. I think it was just like a 'make work' trip. The pope was always coming and all the machinations -- is it going to be a private meeting with the pope or a public meeting with the pope -- was just a sideshow," Kenney said.

    When the Mayor was in Rome, he addressed that criticism, explaining why he felt it was important to meet face-to-face, not just with Pope Francis, but with members of the Pontifical Council for Families, which is the Vatican organization responsible for planning the World Meeting of Families.

    "Look, we're going to be working closely with them for the next year-and-a-half. Now when we call them to talk about logistics or facilitating something, when they pick up the phone here they'll know exactly who they're talking to, and when we're talking about an event this size and what it will mean to our great city, I believe that does make a difference," Nutter said.

    Make no mistake, Kenney said, he's excited about the event itself, which is expected to draw more than a million people to the city, and have an economic impact of $100 million.

    "It's one of the best events we could have in the city, especially in light of our city conventions being down until the year 2017. I wish the mayor was as enthusiastic about the DNC (Democratic National Convention) as he is about the pope," Kenney said. "We're in a downward trend and there are a lot of smaller events that we're working right now to fill hotel rooms with."