In plea to pope, Corbett and Nutter visit Temple Rome

Pennsylvania delegates travel to foreign campus before meeting pope.

Gov. Corbett and Mayor Nutter stand in front of a podium at Temple’s Rome campus. The duo travelled to Italy to encourage Pope Francis to visit Philadelphia.  | Courtesy Sarah Thompson
Gov. Corbett and Mayor Nutter stand in front of a podium at Temple’s Rome campus. The duo travelled to Italy to encourage Pope Francis to visit Philadelphia. | Courtesy Sarah Thompson

During a visit to the Vatican last week, Mayor Nutter and Gov. Corbett toured and spoke at Temple’s Rome campus. Additionally, students said they got the opportunity to talk directly with Nutter and Corbett during their Wednesday visit.

Nutter and Corbett were in Rome from March 25-27 along with Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput in an effort to convince Pope Francis to attend the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families, scheduled to take place in Philadelphia from Sept. 22-27, 2015.

Dean of Temple Rome Hilary Link said in an email that this was her first time meeting the governor and mayor.

“[I]t was a pleasure to have the chance to host them even briefly here at Temple Rome,” Link wrote. “We hosted a private gathering for them along with a few faculty and staff in [Temple Rome’s] beautiful ‘fresco room’ overlooking the Tiber River, and I also toured them around the Villa Caproni, recounted the history of our program, the Villa and more.”

Link said that Corbett noted he had visited his daughter when she studied in Chile so he had some basis for comparison. Nutter also noted that he had met Temple business students in London last fall.

Corbett and Nutter spoke to the students in Temple Rome’s lounge for roughly 20 minutes about how they serve as ambassadors for the university, Pennsylvania and the U.S. They urged the students to retain the memory of all their experiences and what they’ve learned while studying abroad.

Following the speeches, the audience was then given roughly five minutes to ask questions. The topics of discussion ranged from public education, fracking and the Made in America music festival.

“Many students had questions for the governor and mayor, but because of a time constraint, many questions were left unanswered,” Sarah Thompson, a junior theater major studying at Temple Rome, wrote in an email.

“What I found to be the most interesting was how uncomfortable Mayor Nutter, a democrat [sic], and Governor Corbett [sic], a republican [sic], looked as they stood next to each other. Mayor Nutter had a great connection with the students and talked to us in a friendly and open-manner. Governor Corbett [sic] didn’t really seem all that comfortable with the students.”

Rome campus is located in the Villa Caproni across the Tiber River from Vatican City, just north of Piazza del Popolo. Temple established the program nearly 50 years ago and focuses on studies in architecture, international business, liberal arts and visual arts.

After initially planning to have a private meeting with Pope Francis at his residence on Tuesday, the delegation’s meeting was moved to talking with the pope at the regularly scheduled public audience on Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square.

After returning to Philadelphia, Nutter said on Friday that he feels optimistic Pope Francis will come to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. He also showed off gifts he had received on the trip, including tokens from students and staff at Temple’s Rome campus.

The World Meeting of Families was started by Pope John Paul II in 1994 with the goal of strengthening families and has been held every three years with the previous one being held in Milan, attracting a large number of visitors to the city. Philadelphia will be the first location in the country to hold the event.

“I never expected to see Corbett or Nutter in Rome, nonetheless, at Temple University’s Rome campus,” Thompson said. “I enjoyed their visit for the most part. It was nice to finally meet them and listen to them speak, but it was very short-lived, and I wish that we had more time to speak with them.”

Marcus McCarthy can be reached at or on Twitter @marcusmccarthy6.

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