pope francis nobel peace prize orig mg_00012920.jpg
pope francis nobel peace prize orig mg_00012920.jpg
Now playing
02:28
Times Pope Francis has surprised us
Pope Francis gives his speech during his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Andrew Medichini/AP
Pope Francis gives his speech during his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Now playing
00:36
Pope addresses Ireland's child sex abuse scandal
Pope Francis
CNNI
Pope Francis
Now playing
01:30
Pope Francis speaks out on sex abuse scandal
Pope Francis delivers his speech during his audience for members of the International Pilgrimage of the Ministrants at St Peter's Square on July 31, 2018 in Vatican City. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis delivers his speech during his audience for members of the International Pilgrimage of the Ministrants at St Peter's Square on July 31, 2018 in Vatican City. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:51
Pope on sex abuse report: 'we abandoned the little ones'
Pope Francis prays during a weekly general audience in St Peter's square on May 23, 2018 in Vatican. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis prays during a weekly general audience in St Peter's square on May 23, 2018 in Vatican. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:20
Pope declares death penalty inadmissible
MALMO, SWEDEN - OCTOBER 31:  Pope Francis gives a speech during the 'Together in Hope' event at Malmo Arena on October 31, 2016 in Malmo, Sweden. The Pope is on 2 days visit attending Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration in Lund and Malmo.  (Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images)
Michael Campanella/Getty Images
MALMO, SWEDEN - OCTOBER 31: Pope Francis gives a speech during the 'Together in Hope' event at Malmo Arena on October 31, 2016 in Malmo, Sweden. The Pope is on 2 days visit attending Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration in Lund and Malmo. (Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:38
Gay man: Pope told me 'God made you like that'
On Sunday (April 15) Pope Francis comforted a child who lost his father during a visit to a poor district of Rome, saying God has a "dad's heart".
During a meeting Francis answered questions from children and one of them, Emanuele, was too shy to speak at the microphone so the pontiff decided to invite him onto stage. The child started crying and hugged Francis and whispered his question into the pope's ears, saying he was afraid that his father, who was an atheist, could not go to heaven.
Francis comforted Emanuele and said that it is God who decides who goes to heaven and that, since God has a 'dad's heart', he will not abandon the boy's dad, even if he was not a believer.
The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics visited the parish of St. Paul of the Cross in Rome's Corviale neighbourhood and met with children of the poor district of the Italian capital and celebrated Mass for the parish community.
Reuters
On Sunday (April 15) Pope Francis comforted a child who lost his father during a visit to a poor district of Rome, saying God has a "dad's heart". During a meeting Francis answered questions from children and one of them, Emanuele, was too shy to speak at the microphone so the pontiff decided to invite him onto stage. The child started crying and hugged Francis and whispered his question into the pope's ears, saying he was afraid that his father, who was an atheist, could not go to heaven. Francis comforted Emanuele and said that it is God who decides who goes to heaven and that, since God has a 'dad's heart', he will not abandon the boy's dad, even if he was not a believer. The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics visited the parish of St. Paul of the Cross in Rome's Corviale neighbourhood and met with children of the poor district of the Italian capital and celebrated Mass for the parish community.
Now playing
01:03
Boy asks pope if atheist father is in heaven
Mountain Butorac
Now playing
01:36
Watch boy who survived cancer get Pope's kiss
Pope Francis marries flight attendants Carlos Ciuffardi, left, and Paola Podest, center, during a flight from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique, Chile, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Pope Francis celebrated the first-ever airborne papal wedding, marrying these two flight attendants from Chile's flagship airline during the flight. The couple had been married civilly in 2010, however, they said they couldn't follow-up with a church ceremony because of the 2010 earthquake that hit Chile. (L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP)
L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP
Pope Francis marries flight attendants Carlos Ciuffardi, left, and Paola Podest, center, during a flight from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique, Chile, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Pope Francis celebrated the first-ever airborne papal wedding, marrying these two flight attendants from Chile's flagship airline during the flight. The couple had been married civilly in 2010, however, they said they couldn't follow-up with a church ceremony because of the 2010 earthquake that hit Chile. (L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP)
Now playing
01:32
Pope performs impromptu wedding on plane
A general view shows the crowd during the Easter Sunday mass on April 16, 2017 at St Peter's square in Vatican. Christians around the world are marking the Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter. / AFP PHOTO / Filippo MONTEFORTE        (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
A general view shows the crowd during the Easter Sunday mass on April 16, 2017 at St Peter's square in Vatican. Christians around the world are marking the Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter. / AFP PHOTO / Filippo MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:03
The outlaw origins of the Catholic Church
Now playing
01:59
Pope's farmer reveals pontiff's favorite food
Mountain Butorac
Now playing
00:46
Little girl tries to steal Pope's hat
Host TV
Now playing
01:20
President Trump, Pope Francis exchange gifts
Pope Francis meets with Polish bishops at Wawel royal castle in Krakow, on July 27, 2016 during World Youth Days.
Pope Francis heads to Poland for an international Catholic youth festival with a mission to encourage openness to migrants. / AFP / WOJTEK RADWANSKI        (Photo credit should read WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis meets with Polish bishops at Wawel royal castle in Krakow, on July 27, 2016 during World Youth Days. Pope Francis heads to Poland for an international Catholic youth festival with a mission to encourage openness to migrants. / AFP / WOJTEK RADWANSKI (Photo credit should read WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:05
Pope Francis' most memorable moments
Charlene, Princess of Monaco (2-L) kisses the hand of Pope Francis, as her husband Prince Albert II of Monaco (L) looks on prior to a private audience with the pontiff at the Vatican on January 18, 2016.     / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE        (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Charlene, Princess of Monaco (2-L) kisses the hand of Pope Francis, as her husband Prince Albert II of Monaco (L) looks on prior to a private audience with the pontiff at the Vatican on January 18, 2016. / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:31
Papal etiquette when meeting the Pope
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 29:  Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the the end of Palm Sunday Mass on March 29, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. On Palm Sunday Christians celebrate Jesus' arrival into Jerusalem, where he was put to death. It marks the official beginning of Holy Week during which Christians observe the death of Christ before celebrations begin on Easter.  (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Franco Origlia/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 29: Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the the end of Palm Sunday Mass on March 29, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. On Palm Sunday Christians celebrate Jesus' arrival into Jerusalem, where he was put to death. It marks the official beginning of Holy Week during which Christians observe the death of Christ before celebrations begin on Easter. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:01
Things Donald Trump has said about the Pope

Story highlights

Pope Francis will get U.S. security typically reserved for national political conventions

"We look forward to a safe and successful visit by the Holy Father here," Jeh Johnson says

Concerns exist about Pope's U.S. visit being a terror target

(CNN) —  

Pope Francis and his audiences will see a level of security normally reserved for national political conventions and the presidential State of the Union address during the Pontiff’s U.S. visit next week, authorities said Friday.

That intensity will be especially evident in Philadelphia because Francis will hold his biggest public event there, officials said.

“We believe we have struck that right balance for the public, and we look forward to a safe and successful visit by the Holy Father here,” U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told reporters in a Philadelphia multiagency communications center.

With days to go before Pope Francis’ visit, law enforcement agencies have been dealing with the daunting task of securing travel routes and event sites, which, according to a threat assessment by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, are attractive targets for terror groups like ISIS and al Qaeda.

But as of Friday, Johnson stated that “we know of no specific, credible threat directed at the Pope’s visit to this city.”

Gatherings planned for the Pope’s visits to Philadelphia, Washington, and New York have been designated “National Special Security Events,” which require a massive amount of coordination and planning by multiple law enforcement agencies.

The preparations come amid a new ABC News report of a 15-year-old boy who was arrested and accused of plotting an ISIS-inspired attack on the Pope when he visits Philadelphia.

Michael Balboni, former deputy secretary for public safety and homeland security adviser for New York state, said authorities are worried about people who may want to get close to a Pope who likes contact with the crowd.

Balboni also noted how the Islamic extremist group ISIS recently stated it wants to raise the ISIS flag over the Vatican.

The Pope’s visit to the United States would make for an attractive target for ISIS.

“This is still their major target, so there is an opp to strike a blow against Christianity and strike a blow against their hated enemy, the United States,” Balboni said.

A September bulletin distributed to law enforcement around the country and obtained by CNN highlights some of the recent terror-related arrests of alleged homegrown violent extremists in the United States and expresses concerns about potential lone wolf attackers “because of the difficulty in discovering such individuals or independent groups until they are operational.”

The Pope’s visit is also deemed to be “a powerful motivator for groups or individuals with anti-Catholic or anti-Christian viewpoints” who may justify violence for religious reasons, citing recent attacks carried out by al Qaeda or ISIS-inspired groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria or al-Shabaab in Kenya.

Federal law enforcement estimates some events, such as an open-air Sunday Mass in Philadelphia, will attract crowds of well over a million people, making it a challenging environment to secure.

But in an effort to identify potential threats, a number of behavioral indicators were listed that could be deemed “preoperational surveillance” or “attack planning,” including “suspicious purchases of dual-use items that could be used to construct an explosive device, unusual or prolonged interest in motorcade movement dynamics and security, and discreet use of cameras or video recorders, sketching, or note-taking.”

Though the intelligence provided in the bulletin is “absent a specific, actionable threat,” the information was circulated in a collaborative attempt to “aid law enforcement and first responders in identifying and mitigating threats.”

The papal visit also presents unique challenges because Pope Francis doesn’t want security so heavy it prevents his interaction with pilgrims, and because of perceived threats from potential attackers not on the radar of law enforcement.

In planning safety measures, federal and local authorities met with Philadelphia businesses and community groups to ensure the overall plan “keeps the city of Philadelphia going,” Johnson said.

“I’m struck by the areas that will not be closed out and that will continue to be open access for large segments of the public,” Johnson added, referring to distant security perimeters around the Pope’s visit.

Francis will arrive on U.S. soil in Washington on Wednesday and then travel to New York on Thursday.

The Pope will arrive in Philadelphia the next Saturday, September 26.

The Pontiff’s initial reason to visit the United States was to attend Philadelphia’s World Meeting of Families Congress, an international event of prayer, catechesis and celebration of marriage and family, said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter.

“I’m very proud. I’m very excited,” Nutter told reporters.

CNN’s Evan Perez and Wesley Bruer contributed to this report.