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World & Nation

Crowd protests tent blocking view at pope’s Mass -- look what happened

Pope visits Philadelphia

A tent blocks the view of the stage before a Mass by Pope Francis, causing the crowd gathered on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to protest. 

(Matt Rourke / AP)

Thousands of faithful pilgrims traveled for miles, waited hours at security checkpoints and vied for the best spots to see the pope’s Mass on the Ben Franklin Parkway--expected to be the largest event during his U.S. trip.

Then a big white tent was erected. 

Shortly before 1 p.m. EDT, a white party tent sprouted in front of the stage, blocking most altar views. It wasn’t clear why it was there -- but it certainly would protect anyone beneath it should it rain. 

What was clear: The crowd hated it.

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“Take it down!” they chanted, incensed. 

Then, just to be specific, the chant was amended to: “Move that tent!”

Finally, boos emerged from the annoyed crowd. 

Some young priests tried to counter the mood and raise people’s spirits with a rousing rendition of “When the Saints Go  Marching In.”

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But song was drowned out by chanting.

One of the pope’s warm-up acts sang “Kumbaya.” The crowd, including some in Eagles jerseys, would have none of it.  

“OK, now move that tent!” said Eshban Sarfraz, 20, who had arrived for his place on the low-lying lawn at 7 a.m. “It’s like 1.5 million people here and they can’t see the pope. They’re here to see the pope, not a tent. Whoever is sitting in there needs to understand there’s 1.5 million people behind them.”

One of the boys in his group muttered, “You can only see half of the crucifix.”

The outrage even spawned a hashtag on Twitter: #takeitdown

Suddenly, cheers began to rumble through the spectators.  

“The tent’s coming down!”

An announcement about the tent’s de-construction had apparently been made.

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Chants turned to unified shouts of “Thank you.”

And the priests began to sing, “Glory, Glory hallelujah!”

Follow @mollyhf on Twitter.


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