Pope Confirms Plans to Visit NYC This Fall

Pope Francis says he is coming to the New York City this fall during a visit that will also include stops in Washington and Philadelphia.

In an interview with reporters Monday, the pope confirmed his travel plans, saying he will visit the United Nations while in New York.

The pope said he could not remember the exact dates for his trip, nor did he share many details, but over the weekend, the Catholic News Agency reported that a member of the tour organizing committee said the pope would arrive in Washington on Sept. 22. He will visit the the White House, and then celebrate mass at Washington's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

According to the report, the pope will leave for New York City on Sept. 24 and address the United Nations general assembly on the morning of Sept. 25. The pope will also visit St. Patrick's Cathedral, but will most likely celebrate mass at another venue, possibly Madison Square Garden. He'll also make a stop at ground zero. 

Pope Francis then plans to head to Philadelphia on Sept. 26 to take part in the World Meeting of Families, a gathering of Catholics held every three years.

"The pope should know New York will welcome him with open arms," Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. "Pope Francis is the leading global voice on issues of social justice and income inequality, and New Yorkers from all backgrounds will be tremendously humbled and honored to hear his message right here in our city later this year.”

"I'm really excited," said Gloria Chacon of Bushwick as she visited St. Patrick's Cathedral Monday. "I really like this pope. I can't wait to tell my mom and my grandmothers They're going to be like, 'Let's go.'"

"It's great for New York, it's great for America," said John Altera of Sunnyside. "We finally have a progressive pope, and I think he's really connected with a lot of people and it'll be great to have him here in New York." 

Father Patrick Ryan, a religion professor at Fordham University, said Francis' visit appeals to those who may have felt left out of the church in recent years.

"People are fascinated by him because he's so down to earth, he's so ordinary," he said. "I've been reading some blogs complaining about the style, that his writings aren't elegant -- that's the way he is." 

Some New Yorkers are wondering how close they'll be able to get to the pope, since the expected Madison Square Garden mass can only accommodate about a third of the faithful that Yankee Stadium held for past papal visits.

The New York Archdiocese has yet to comment on the pope's plans.

-- Andrew Siff contributed to this report. 

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