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Here's Why the Pope Won't Hold Mass at Yankee Stadium During His NYC Visit

By Eddie Small | July 9, 2015 4:49pm
 Despite strong efforts by Bronx residents, Pope Francis will not conduct a mass at Yankee Stadium when he visits New York City in September.
Despite strong efforts by Bronx residents, Pope Francis will not conduct a mass at Yankee Stadium when he visits New York City in September.
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Franco Origlia/Stringer

CONCOURSE — The effort to convince Pope Francis to deliver a mass at Yankee Stadium during his New York City visit has fallen short.

Despite an aggressive campaign by Bronxites that included petitioning, posters and prayers, the pontiff’s recently released schedule for his September trip to New York City does not include a mass at the famed ballpark.

Joseph Zwilling, communications director for the Archdiocese of New York, said there were two main reasons why a papal mass at Yankee Stadium was not possible this time around.

The first is that Pope Francis' time in New York during his visit to the United States is not meant to be the highlight of his trip. That honor belongs to the Sept. 27 Mass for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

"The archdioceses of Washington and New York were asked by those planning the Pope’s trip not to have anything that might detract from that mass or overshadow it," Zwilling said, "and so our Masses became somewhat smaller in scope than we had originally intended."

Furthermore, in order to keep the pope from becoming too tired and maximize the amount of time he gets to spend interacting with people, trip organizers did not want him to be traveling a lot within New York City.

"I know both Yankee Stadium and Citi Field are nearby, but all of the events that we have planned with the Holy Father — save his arrival and departure from JFK — will take place in Manhattan," Zwilling said.

Pope Francis is due to arrive in New York City on Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. and depart the city on Sept. 26 at 8:40 a.m. He will deliver a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on Sept. 25 at 11:30 a.m. and a mass at Madison Square Garden at 6 p.m.

Yankee Stadium has been a common site for popes who have visited New York in the past. It hosted Pope Paul VI in 1965, Pope John Paul II in 1979 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2008.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who was part of a group of borough leaders that signed an invitation to Pope Francis encouraging him to conduct mass at Yankee Stadium, said he was “highly disappointed” that the pope’s schedule did not include a trip to the venue.

“Considering Pope Francis’ Argentinean roots and our vast Hispanic community here in The Bronx, it would have made sense for Pope Francis to have scheduled a stop in our great borough,” he said in a statement. “I hope we can welcome Pope Francis to The Bronx in the near future.”

Congressman Jose Serrano, who signed the invitation as well, said he was also disappointed but still excited for the papal visit to the United States.

“It is unfortunate that Pope Francis’ schedule won’t allow him to come to Yankee Stadium," he said in a statement. "Nevertheless, I look forward to his visit to New York."