News & Politics

Who Did a Better Job Hosting the Pope: DC or Philadelphia?

Philadelphia may be the City of Brotherly Love, but lately it’s been more like the City of Little Brotherly Oversensitivity. When The Washington Post critiqued Philadelphia for its overbearing security precautions prior to Pope Francis’s visit, Philadelphia City Paper fired back with a bunch of reasons why DC was a lesser metropolis. Washingtonian‘s interview with the author of that Post piece, Francis Stead Sellers, got Philadelphians even more exercised. As Francis’s Fiat got closer, the town that put up with Jonathan Papelbon with three-and-a-half seasons became very un-dude.

But the visit was a big deal for both cities, and nerves are to be expected. Now that Pope Francis has left the US, it’s only fair to ask who did a better job hosting him. Let’s go to the tape.

Biggest Celebrity

DC: President Obama

Philadelphia: Mark Wahlberg

Winner? It’s close, but the leader of the free world edges the star of Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Security Actions

DC: Police from the many forces that have jurisdiction in the District called in lots of backup, closed roads, and banned selfie sticks, but their efforts had plenty of silver linings. They bent over backward so a little girl could meet the pope (OK, that turned out to be a setup) and didn’t balk when Francis decided to have lunch with DC’s homeless rather than politicians.

Philadelphia: According to NBC, Philadelphia felt like a “police state” over the weekend. Also, the city drove away the homeless, who the Pope has been outspoken about helping. Where was the brotherly love?

Winner? DC. Both cities were locked down, but only one place felt like a fascist nightmare.

Public Turnout

DC: Though thousands lined the streets to watch the popemobile go by at various points of Francis’s visit, the Moral Action on Climate Justice rally on the National Mall had a very underwhelming turnout, despite appearances from Moby, Victoria Justice, Sean Paul, and Natasha Bedingfield. At the National Park Service’s urging, organizers planned for 200,000 attendees. Only about 2,000 showed up.

Philadelphia: Organizers expected 1.5 million people at Sunday’s outdoor mass. It drew hundreds of thousands, but the extreme security percautions scared plenty of people away from trying to come near the Pope (the city’s mayor blamed the media).

Winner? Philadelphia. They let down the pope, but we let down Moby.

Papal Offering

DC: An elegant sculpture of an ascending dove. Also, Congress gave the pope a glass of water (which a congressman from Philadelphia stole).

Philadelphia: A China bowl, a bike, and a free Wawa hoagie (which he never ended up getting)

Winner? DC. Philly Mayor Michael Nutter should have known that the pope is on a strict diet, and that tempting his Holiness with divine deli meats, heavenly hero rolls, or blessed meatballs is a borderline sin.

Winner overall? Clearly DC.

Your move, Philadelphia.