Pope John Paul II drew raves in ‘79

Children greeting Pope John Paul in Philadelphia, 1979. Daily News Photo
Children greeting Pope John Paul in Philadelphia, 1979. Daily News Photo
Posted: June 04, 2012

WHEN POPE John Paul II spent two days in Philadelphia in October 1979, more than a million people turned out to see and cheer him. Daily News editorial writers, caught in the spirit of the occasion, abandoned politics, city-budget problems, crime and the other usual subjects of their wise analysis, and waxed eloquent over the Pontiff’s visit.

Here are some excerpts:

"The triumphant visit of Pope John Paul II was one of Philadelphia’s finest hours. No matter what part of the city you live in, no matter whether you are a Catholic or not, you couldn’t help but be swept away by the excitement, the emotion and the air of exhilaration that cradled this city for 48 hours.

“The world was watching and we flashed it a glimpse of what the people who live in the City of Brotherly Love are all about. We rolled out a welcome mat 1 million strong — a sea of smiling, hopeful people, wearing Sunday clothes and using Sunday manners to match. We sang, we waved, we cried and we prayed. It was a two-day visit of which all Philadelphians can be proud."

"We were different for a little while. Not because he commanded us to be different. But because he is different and that difference is profoundly contagious. He loved the city and the city loved back. If what he has could be packaged and distributed, the possibilities for a better world would be limitless. It’s not what he says … it’s what he is.

“He is what some of the more fortunate among us start out to be and never become — a man of God and a man of the Earth, at once a true symbol and a real person.

“He made history in this city of history. He made friends. He made a difference." n

— John F. Morrison

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