In Philadelphia, Madonna gives 'Popey-wopey' her blessing

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A woman with plenty of experience tangling with the Vatican has given Pope Francis her endorsement during his first U.S. visit.

At her concert Thursday night in Philadelphia, where Francis is scheduled this weekend to make the last stop of his tour, a tongue-in-cheek Madonna dedicated a section of her show to him.

She later announced: "Rules are for fools. That's why I like the new pope. He seems very open-minded."

It was just one of many comments about Francis at a concert that featured lots of religious imagery, including female performers wearing nuns' habits — and little else — pole dancing on crosses.

"The pope is stalking me," she said, noting she recently performed in New York, where Francis is until Saturday morning. "Either he's a copycat or he's secretly in love with me."

After climbing up on a table in a clingy, shimmering dress, the 57-year-old provocateur said: "I made it. Can the pope do that?"

And then: "I've been excommunicated from the Catholic Church three times. It shows the Vatican really cares," she joked.

"Since Popey-wopey is on his way over here, I want to dedicate this song to him," she said before launching into a heartfelt version of "La Vie en Rose."

Madonna, raised Roman Catholic in Michigan, has a long history of running afoul of the Vatican. Her 1989 video for "Like A Prayer" contained imagery that outraged religious leaders, including stigmata and burning crosses. Her seminal 1990 "Blond Ambition" tour included simulated masturbation and brought condemnation from the Vatican. And in her 2006 "Confessions" tour, she staged a mock crucifixion only a few miles from the Vatican.

That doesn't necessarily mean the Vatican has entirely banished the singer. In December, Italy's singing nun, Sister Cristina Scuccia, met Francis and presented him with a copy of her first CD, which features a remake of Madonna's "Like a Virgin." Scuccia had won the Italian edition of "The Voice" earlier that year. The Italian Bishops' Conference criticized the song's appearance on the CD, saying it was a commercial ploy.

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Jeff McMillan can be reached at http://twitter.com/jeffmcmillanap

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In Philadelphia, Madonna gives 'Popey-wopey' her blessing
Pope Francis talks with President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base in Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. The Pope is spending three days in Washington before heading to New York and Philadelphia. This is the Pope's first visit to the United States. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: a Crowd waves to His Holiness Pope Francis on his arrival at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland after the pontiff's arrival from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: a Crowd waves to His Holiness Pope Francis on his arrival at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland after the pontiff's arrival from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (AFP OUT) Pope Francis is greeted by U.S. President Barack Obama after the pontiff's arrival from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis arrives to the United States from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. Pope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday for his first-ever visit, a trip that will include a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and a speech to Congress. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: The red carpet is rolled out for Pope Francis as he arrives to the United States from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Pope Francis disembarks from his airplane upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. Pope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday for his first-ever visit, a trip that will include a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and a speech to Congress. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis walks down the steps of his plane upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, where President Barack Obama was to greet him. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Pope Francis steps off his plane at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. Pope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday for his first-ever visit, a trip that will include a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and a speech to Congress. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and first lady Michelle Obama arrive to greet the Pope September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis is greeted by U.S. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis is escorted by U.S. President Barack Obama, first Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop) Pope Francis (L) is escorted by U.S. President Barack Obama as he greets and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Clergy brace for the wind as they stand along the red carpet on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, as the plane carrying Pope Francis arrives. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Pope Francis upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis is escorted by U.S. President Barack Obama (R) after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) greets Pope Francis (R) upon his arrival September 22, 2015 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (AFP OUT) Pope Francis is greeted by U.S. President Barack Obama,Vice President Joe Biden, Jill Biden and invited guests after the pontiff's arrival from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis is greeted by U.S. President Barack Obama (R), along with first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama welcomes Pope Francis upon his arrival on September 22, 2015 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis, accompanied by President Barack Obama, and others, is greeted upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Pope Francis departs in a Fiat after arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on September 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis waves from the back of his Fiat after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (AFP OUT) Pope Francis departs in a Fiat after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
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