Madonna: ‘The pope and I have a lot in common’

“You know what I think is interesting? The pope is stalking me,” Madonna said last night to a cheering crowd at the Wells Fargo Center. “I was just in New York and he was. And now I’m in Philadelphia, and he will be too. … I think he’s secretly in love with me.”

The show felt perfectly timed, with Madonna’s signaturereligious imagery — from a Last Supper set to pole-dancing nuns — coming in the midst of Popemania, just before Pope Francis gets to town.

Mid-“Music,” she paused to announce that she was dedicating the next section of the song to the pope — “because I know he’ll appreciate it.”

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While most in costume came dressed as ’80s Madonna, there was one very visible pope standing up front on the floor. When the singer donneda veil, then held a bouquet of flowers and asked who was up for getting married,the “pope” wanted the honors. “You know you can’t get married. Those are the rules. But rules are for fools,” Madonna said.

“That’s why I like the new pope. He seems very open-minded,” she added. “You know I’ve been excommunicated from the Catholic Church three times? I like that. That’s how I know the Vatican cares.”

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The show was a mix of “Rebel Heart” songs and updated version of earlier hits, switching seamlessly from energetic, grinning dancers on elaborate setpieces, bouncing along the stageagainst a backdrop of fast-moving projected images, to quieter, more intimate moments, like a sweet “True Blue” accompanied by a ukulele.

Madonna even did a cover. “You know, I truly believe love makes the world go round. The pope and I have a lot in common,” she said, sitting alone with a guitar before launching into French for “La Vie en Rose.”