Archbishop: Pope Francis Agrees to Visit US Next Year

Image: Archbishop: Pope Francis Agrees to Visit US Next Year (Alberto Pizzoli/Getty Images)

Friday, 25 Jul 2014 12:30 PM

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Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput says Pope Francis has accepted his invitation to make a three-day trip to the United States next year — his first visit since becoming Pope in March 2013, Catholic News Service reports.

Chaput said Thursday that the Pope had accepted his invitation to attend the World Meeting of Families.

"Pope Francis has told me that he is coming," Chaput said before delivering his homily at the opening Mass of the Tekakwitha Conference in Fargo, N.D.

Francis:Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.

The conference is scheduled for Sept. 22-27, 2015, in Philadelphia.

"The pope will be with us the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of that week," Chaput said.

A Vatican spokesman said that although Francis has said "he is willing" to attend, there is "no operating plan or preparations underway" for a visit.

And the Philadelphia Archdiocese released a statement tempering Chaput's announcement, CBS Philadelphia reported:

"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 statement said.

"We still expect that any official confirmation will come approximately six months prior to the event."

Chaput, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Gov. Tom Corbett visited Rome in April to extend an invitation to the Pope.

The popular Francis has yet to visit the U.S. as pope, and the question of whether he will attend the Philadelphia gathering has drawn intense speculation. Popes have attended five of the past seven such conferences around the globe, and Pope Benedict had announced his intention to come when the city was announced as the venue for the gathering.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Pope Francis has received other invitations to visit North America, including from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who met this week with the Vatican's No. 2 official in Rome, as well as one from Mexico.

Francis:Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.

Benedict made the last papal visit to the U.S. in 2008, a six-day pilgrimage during which he went to Washington and New York. The most recent visit to Philadelphia by a pontiff was in 1979, when Pope John Paul II drew gigantic crowds as part of his first papal tour of the country.

The Catholic News Service said it stood by its account of the archbishop's remarks.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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