This morning, Pope Francis received in audience the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput, who took the occasion to invite Francis to come to Philadelphia next September.
The reason for the visit would be the 8th World Meeting of Families to take place in the City of Brotherly Love from September 22-27, 2015. On meeting Pope Francis, Archbishop Chaput drew attention to Philadelphia’s profound religious roots. He also mentioned that some 10,000-15,000 people from all over the world are expected to attend next September’s event. He hinted that were the Pope to come, they could expect over a million in attendance.
If Francis does attend, it will be his first visit to the United States as Pope, and the first visit of any pontiff since Benedict XVI visited Washington, D.C. and New York in April 2008. On returning back to Rome, Benedict said at the time that everywhere he went in the United States, “I was able to experience the fact that the faith is alive, that Christ is there today among the people, that he shows them the way and helps them to build the present as well as the future.”
In his meeting with the Pope, Archbishop Chaput was joined by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Together they presented the program for next September’s encounter, which bears the title: “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.” Francis has shown special interest in the situation of families in the world, and has called a major summit of bishops in Rome next month to study the issue.
Archbishop Chaput explained that the title of the encounter is inspired by the celebrated phrase of the second-century Saint Irenaeus: “The glory of God is man fully alive.” In like manner, he said, “the glory of men and women is their capacity to love as God loves. Life in a family is a summons to embody that love in everyday life.”
The organizers of the event have also prepared a family catechism to assist in preparing Catholics on the theme of the family. The text is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, and soon will be translated into other languages.
The Pope did not immediately accept the Archbishop’s invitation to visit the US next fall, but neither did he say no.