Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said today he has “good reason” to believe Pope Francis will accept an invitation to visit Philadelphia in September 2015 during an international Catholic conference.
Archbishop Chaput made the statement at a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in New Orleans.
He, Gov. Tom Corbett, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and other top church and civic officials formally extended an invitation to Francis during a visit to Rome in March. They invited Francis to attend the World Meeting of Families, a triennial international Catholic gathering aimed at strengthening the family structure.
The Vatican, which does not normally announce a papal trip far in advance, has not confirmed if Francis would be making the trip. It would be his first to the United States and the first by any pope to Philadelphia since 1979.
Based on the most recent World Meeting of Families, which took place in Milan in 2012 and included a Mass by Pope Benedict XVI, officials in Pennsylvania believe a papal visit could draw a million people to Philadelphia and generate an economic impact of $100 million.
Peter Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1416 or on Twitter @PG_PeterSmith.