Philly delegation hosted by Vatican ambassador

Posted: March 26, 2014

VATICAN CITY - Alternatingly droopy-eyed from jet lag and wide-eyed from the excitement of seeing ancient wonders, a delegation of two dozen Philadelphia political, business and church leaders arrived in Rome yesterday.

The group, beginning a five-day trip to plan the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year, took a tour of Rome, survived a gauntlet of media interviews and attended a reception at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

The primary goal of the trip is to ensure that Pope Francis attends the September 2015 meeting, which could draw millions to Philadelphia.

But yesterday, the primary goal was getting to bed early before two full days of meetings and media events at the Vatican.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, who will lead a private Mass for the delegation in St. Peter's Basilica at 7 a.m. today, left the evening festivities early and headed back to the Grand Hotel de la Minerve, the exquisite hotel near the Pantheon where the delegation is staying.

Mayor Nutter, wearing a dark-gray suit, green tie and "PHL" pin, finished the evening outside the hotel, the only place he could get service on his BlackBerry, sending emails to folks back in City Hall.

He said that he, Chaput and Gov. Corbett spoke at Ambassador Kenneth Hackett's reception at the Villa Richardson home.

"The ambassador was excited to see us," he said of Hackett, who has been on the job since August after heading the Catholic Relief Services charity. "It's been a great trip so far."

Nutter said there were two other ambassadors there: John Phillips, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, and David Lane, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

Today, the group will meet with the Pontifical Council for the Family, take private tours of the Vatican and hold a media event to announce the theme of the 2015 conference.

On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN


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