Obama invites Central Falls mayor to meet pope


By Bill Rappleye, NBC 10 Political Reporter

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. - Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States is exciting news for many Southern New Englanders who are heading to Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia, as they hope to catch a glimpse of the pontiff.

It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, though it’s unlikely that local residents will get to meet the leader of the Catholic Church. The Bishops from Providence and Fall River are making the trek, and they aren't even sure of getting an audience.

But there are a few ways to get into one of the pope’s events, including receiving an invite from a well-connected politician.

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa will be at the White House Wednesday morning when Pope Francis is greeted by President Obama. He said he was surprised when he got the invitation from the president and is thrilled, as he said he is inspired by the pope.

“To see him do what he does, you know, visit the poor, clean their feet, feed them, just shows that as a mayor of a small community that’s going through so much I’ve got to continue rolling up my sleeves and doing more work to help every resident in Central Falls,” Diossa said.

Diossa also said he is honored to be representing Central Falls. He expects it to be a visit he will never forget.

“It’s huge,” Diossa said. “I hope to bring back that experience and share it with our residents.”

Pope Francis will address a joint session of Congress.

Diossa said he expects the pope to raise the issue of undocumented migrants in the United States, as well as call for the country to embrace them and give them a way to stay in the country.

Professor James Keating from Providence College shared similar sentiments.

“He’s going to have a lot of nice things to say about the history of American Catholicism, especially, perhaps, the importance of the Hispanic heritage. I bet he’ll emphasize that (and) the fact that Catholics are immigrants but they’ve contributed so much to the country…He'll say a lot of those powerful things.”


Original story can be found here.

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