PHILADELPHIA — Reports that Pope Francis will travel to the U.S. for the World Meeting of Families in 2015 remain unconfirmed by the Vatican; however, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia is confident of the Pope’s attendance.
On July 25, reports began to circulate the Archbishop Chaput had confirmed Pope Francis’ presence at the meeting in his cathedral city next year.
And according to Catholic News Service, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said July 25 that the Holy Father had expressed “his willingness to participate in the World Meeting of Families” and also had received invitations to visit other cities in the United States next year, including an invitation that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio personally delivered earlier this week to Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
However, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia explained in a statement that there “has been no official confirmation by the Vatican or The Holy See of Pope Francis' attendance.”
“We still expect that any official confirmation will come approximately six months prior to the event,” the archdiocese said, explaining that “Archbishop Chaput's comments do not serve as official confirmation, (but) they do serve to bolster our sincere hope that Philadelphia will welcome Pope Francis next September.”
“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,” the statement said.
The 2015 World Meeting of Families will be held Sept. 22-27 under the theme, “Love is our mission: the family fully alive.” Tens of thousands from across the world are anticipated to attend the event.
The World Meeting of Families began in 1994 by the Pontifical Council for the Family under St. John Paul II. Its mission is to strengthen families across the globe, encouraging them to live their faith with joy and sincerity.
Earlier this week, it was announced that the meeting is to be under the patronage of St. John Paul II, who visited Philadelphia in 1979, and St. Gianna Molla, who died while giving birth.
Archbishop Chaput has previously hinted at the Pope's presence at the event.
While “obviously a papal visit is never official until the Holy See confirms it,” he said June 11 at the U.S. bishops' spring general assembly in New Orleans, “we do have good reasons to believe that Pope Francis will take part in the meeting, and we are planning to welcome him wholeheartedly.”
He added that the meeting “comes at a time when the Church in the U.S. urgently needs an opportunity for joy and renewal. It is also a time of great confusion about the nature of marriage and family,” he said, noting that its goal is to “offer the beauty of Catholic teaching about marriage and the family with confidence and a spirit of invitation to every person of good will.”
Register staff contributed to this report.