By Sarah Mac Donald - 26 July, 2014
Pope Francis plans to attend the World Meeting of Families in September 2015 in Philadelphia according to a senior member of the American hierarchy.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput claimed on Thursday that Pope Francis has accepted his invitation to attend the event, though the Vatican has not yet confirmed that the Pontiff will visit the US.
Archbishop Chaput made the announcement ahead of his homily for the opening Mass of the Tekakwitha Conference in Fargo.
“Pope Francis has told me that he is coming,” the Archbishop told those attending the Mass and he invited Native Americans to attend the celebration which will take place in Philadelphia from 22-27 September 2015.
“The Pope will be with us the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of that week,” Archbishop Chaput is reported to have said.
Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, on Friday acknowledged the Pope’s expression of “willingness to participate in the World Meeting of Families” but said the Pontiff had received invitations to visit other cities as well.
However, the Jesuit said Pope Francis was considering these invitations to visit New York, the UN and Washington.
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said, “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.”
It continued, “We still expect that any official confirmation will come approximately six months prior to the event.”
The statement 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 Fr Lombardi’s comments, the Archdiocese 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.”