Archbishop says pope will visit Philadelphia

The news that Pope Francis may visit Philadelphia next year travelled fast and was received enthusiastically throughout the region and across the country, wirth church and government leaders in other cities expressing the hope that the pope would add other stops to his trip,
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said Pope Francis has accepted his invitation to attend the World Meeting of Families in the U.S. next year, even though the Philadelphia Archdiocese still has not received official confirmation from the Vatican.
Archbishop Chaput made the announcement July 24 before giving his homily during the opening Mass of the Tekakwitha Conference in Fargo.
“Pope Francis has told me that he is coming,” said the archbishop as he invited his fellow Native Americans to the 2015 celebration being held in Philadelphia Sept. 22-27.
“The pope will be with us the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of that week,” he said.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said July 25 Pope Francis has expressed “his willingness to participate in the World Meeting of Families” in Philadelphia, and has received invitations to visit other cities as well, which he is considering. Those invitations include New York, the United Nations and Washington.
“There has been no official confirmation by the Vatican or the Holy See of Pope Francis’ attendance at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “We still expect that any official confirmation will come approximately six months prior to the event.”
It said Archbishop Chaput “has frequently shared his confidence in Pope Francis’ attendance at the World Meeting and his personal conversations with the Holy Father are the foundation for that confidence.”
“We are further heartened and excited” by Father Lombardi’s comments, it added. “While Archbishop Chaput’s comments do not serve as official confirmation, they do serve to bolster our sincere hope that Philadelphia will welcome Pope Francis next September.”
Catholics in the Diocese of Camden also expressed their excitement.
Mary Lou Hughes, co-director, Faith and Family Life Formation, said the pope’s presence would be “a great energizing event for the church in America, and an opportunity for evangelization.”
“With Pope Francis’ election last year, there seems to be a new energy. He’s peaked the interest of a lot of people in this area, Catholic and non-Catholic alike,” she said.
Father Ariel Hernandez, an Argentinian priest who is pastor of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, Newfield, said if the pope comes it will be “a great blessing for our country.”
“His personality, religious values and pastoral vision will bring enthusiasm, hope and spiritual growth to the people,” he said.
Seminarian Carlo Santa Teresa said, “The church always appears at its strongest, at its liveliest, when it gathers around (the Holy Father).”
Some Mexican media have cited government officials saying a September trip to North America also could include stops in Mexico, but Father Lombardi said that at this moment “nothing operational has begun relative to a plan or program for a visit to the United States or Mexico. Keep in mind, there is still more than a year to go before the meeting in Philadelphia.”

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