City Council wants to make sure Philly can handle a papal visit

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     Pope Francis blesses a child during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, in 2013. (Gregorio Borgia/AP Photo)

    Pope Francis blesses a child during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, in 2013. (Gregorio Borgia/AP Photo)

    Ahead of hosting a major Catholic gathering next year, a Philadelphia councilwoman wants to see if the city is ready to handle big events. 

    This weekend, Gov. Tom Corbett, Mayor Michael Nutter and Archbishop Charles Chaput are traveling to Rome to ask Pope Francis to come to the World Meeting of Families set for Sept. 22 to 27, 2015, in Philadelphia.

    Councilwoman Cindy Bass’ hearing is aimed at evaluating whether the city’s hospitality industry and transportation infrastructure can handle, say, an Olympics, a national political convention or a papal visit.

    “We’ve done numerous conventions and events, and I think we’ve got the capacity, we can really pull it off,” Bass said Tuesday. “I’ve been to other cities, so I know what the competition’s like. I know and believe that Philadelphia can host a large-scale event right here in this city.”

    The hearing will gauge whether the city is ready to give the best impression to the world.

    “I think that preparation is the key and these hearings are just getting us prepared and putting one foot in front of the other so that we’ve thought it through, thought strategically, and are ready for these events,” Bass said. “Because I believe some of them will come our way.”

    A date for the hearing has not been set.

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