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Pope Francis Visit: NYC Ready for 80K People in Central Park, Mayor Says

By Jeff Mays | September 21, 2015 2:06pm
 Pope Francis
Pope Francis
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Franco Origlia / Stringer/Getty Images

NEW YORK CITY — More than 80,000 people are expected to be in Central Park Friday for Pope Francis' procession, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

The city will be prepared to handle the high-profile visit which Police Commissioner William Bratton last week called the city's "largest security challenge" ever because it coincides with the United Nations General Assembly.

De Blasio said the city, led by the security efforts of the Secret Service, will be ready and that New Yorkers will benefit form the visit.

"It's going to be a joyous week, an exciting week, and it's going to be an inspiring week for New Yorkers as we welcome Pope Francis," the mayor said.

The pope will visit the city from Sept. 24-26 and will address the U.N. General Assembly about immigration, visit Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem and attend a "multi-religious" service at the 9/11 Memorial.

► CLICK HERE TO SEE THE POPE'S SCHEDULE

In addition to the Central Park procession, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden and say evening prayer at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

New Yorkers can expect some delays as streets around the city are closed, but the mayor said that residents are up to handling the inconveniences.

CLICK HERE TO SEE A LIST OF STREET CLOSURES

"I think New Yorkers are resilient," said de Blasio

"We are absolutely ready," added de Blasio, who said there were no serious or credible threats against the pope.

De Blasio called Pope Francis the  "strongest moral voice on the planet" who is using his voice and "moral authority" to spread a message of global economic and environmental justice.

He said the visit will make an "uncomfortable moment for folks who are anti-immigrant or don't believe in economic fairness," the mayor added.

Among the spectators will be students and teachers from three Catholic Schools on Staten Island—St. Ann's, Holy Rosary and St. Christopher's — who were given tickets to the event after they showed great exuberance over the pope's planned visit.

"Pope Francis is by far my favorite Pope," said Isabella, one of the students. "He really lives as Jesus did."