Temple experts available to speak on Pope Francis
Many Temple University faculty are experts on issues related to Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. Reporters wishing to request an interview should contact Ashwin Verghese at 215-204-7739, 717-676-8584 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth Hayes Alvarez, assistant professor of religion
What I can discuss: the role of Catholicism in Philadelphia history; the perception of Francis as a political liberal; how people of other faiths view the pope
Quote: “I think Philly is a great Catholic city. Catholic institutions have supported the city in myriad ways. It’s important for current Philly residents to have the pope visit. Recent scandals have hit the Philly church very hard, so I think many people are excited to have a positive story and positive media.”
You should know: I’ll be appearing in Urban Trinity, a documentary about the history of Philadelphia’s Catholic community that will appear on 6ABC the week of Francis’ visit. I’m working on a new book, The Valiant Woman: The Virgin Mary in Nineteenth-Century American Culture.
Terry Rey, associate professor of religion
What I can discuss: race and the pope; immigrant and diaspora Catholic communities in Philadelphia; how Francis’ visit compares with Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1979
Quote: “Hispanics and blacks are perhaps more enthusiastic about a pope who could be considered a person of color, but it’s not entirely clear if Francis is that. Francis is similar to President Obama in that he’s embraced, but when you scratch below the surface, his experience of life has been radically different from that of other people of color.
“I don’t think Francis’ visit will help grow the church. The downward trajectory of Catholicism in this country is irreversible.”
You should know: I’m appearing in Urban Trinity, a documentary about the history of Philadelphia’s Catholic community that will appear on 6ABC the week of the pope’s visit.
Leonard Swidler, professor of Catholic thought and interreligious dialogue
What I can discuss: Francis’ outreach to the marginalized; his views on the role of women; his long-term impact on Catholic consciousness
Quote: “Francis may be using this opportunity like a presidential candidate to go over the heads of the politicians and go straight to the people. He’s going to have two million people there besides everybody on TV, and if he plays it right, he could create a groundswell for public support for whatever he wishes.”
You should know: I taught alongside the future Pope Benedict XVI on the Catholic theology faculty of the University of Tübingen in the late ’60s and early ’70s. I’m the author of Jesus Was a Feminist.
MARKETING AND TOURISM
Susan Mudambi, associate professor of marketing
What I can discuss: how pope-related merchandise appeals to different audiences, how the pope is affecting the Catholic Church’s image and brand.
Quote: “The Catholic Church is marketing the pope pretty heavily. He’s a product in himself. I think the church believes he’s a way to improve their overall brand.”
You should know: I teach courses at Temple on consumer behavior, marketing strategy and digital marketing, among other subjects.
Wesley Roehl, professor of tourism and hospitality management
What I can discuss: how the Pope’s visit could positively (or negatively) affect perceptions of Philadelphia over the long term, how this occasion compares to the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention.
Quote: “Will this event cause people to become more aware of Philadelphia or develop more positive attitudes about this destination? If things go well, it should help. But if there’s a failure in crowd control or a breakdown in city services, there are going to be thousands of media folks here who will let their readers know about it.”
More about me: I've been a professor at Temple since 2000. Prior to that, I spent 12 years on the faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL ISSUES
Frank Farley, L.H. Carnell professor of psychological studies in education
What I can discuss: the psychological impact of the pope’s visit on people in the city and those leaving the city that weekend, the visit’s effect on Philadelphia’s “inferiority complex,” crowd behavior, how Pope Francis fits the mold of a hero.
Quote: “There’s a phenomenon in psychology called the ‘confirmation bias.’ That’s where you believe something, and suddenly everything starts to fit that model. The way to break out of it is to find some disconfirming examples. That’s what the Democratic National Convention and the pope’s visit are doing for Philadelphia’s reputed low self esteem.”
You should know: I’m the former president of the American Psychological Association.