Dorchester’s Mark Wahlberg was reportedly set to host a music festival associated with the papal visit to Philadelphia this month.
The actor and devout Catholic, 44, is known for his roles in Boston blockbusters “The Departed” and “Ted,” but he is also known for a series of racially motivated attacks made during his teen years, including beating a Vietnamese man with a stick and throwing rocks at black children. He has petitioned the state for a pardon, hoping to clean up his record and put his past behind him.
Wahlberg was set to host the Festival of Families on Saturday, Sept. 26 in Philly, one day before Pope Francis is scheduled to celebrate mass in the city.
Also scheduled to perform for the pontiff: Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, pop-rockers The Fray, crooner Andrea Bocelli and The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Wahlberg, who has long said that he has turned his life around and said that his legal troubles stemmed from substance abuse during his teen years.
"I did a lot of things that I regretted and I certainly paid for my mistakes,"Wahlberg told ABC News in 2010. "You have to go and ask for forgiveness and it wasn't until I really started doing good and doing right, by other people as well as myself, that I really started to feel that guilt go away. So I don't have a problem going to sleep at night. I feel good when I wake up in the morning."
According to the New York Daily News, he was charged in 1988 with attempted murder for beating two Vietnamese men in an attempt to steal beer. He was 16 at the time.
According to a story in the UK Daily Mail, Wahlberg has apologized to that victim, Johnny Trinh.
Wahlberg was also connected to attacks on two African-American brothers and another attack on a group of African-American school children amid tensions over school desegregation.
When he was 14, Wahlberg and a group of friends allegedly threw rocks at the children and shouted at them to get out of their neighborhood.
Organizers from the World Meeting of Families said they were aware of the incidents before booking the entertainer.
"Mr. Wahlberg has been very open about how he reconnected with his Catholic faith after this incident and how he sought forgiveness in the Church. One of the core tenants of the Catholic faith is forgiveness and his decision to seek that from God and recommit his life, with faith at the center or it, is not only something to be respected but admired," papal meeting planners said in a statement.
Wahlberg has famously maintained connections to the Very Rev. James Flavin, a former Dorchester parishioner and current episcopal vicar of the archdiocese’s central region, who was a spiritual mentor to Wahlberg when he was a teen.