Pope Francis has accepted an invitation to visit Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to attend the Catholic church's World Meeting of Families in 2015, confirmed Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Caput on Thursday. The World Meeting of Families will take place from September 22- 27, 2015.
"Pope Francis has told me that he is coming," said Caput, who made the announcement before his homily at the opening Mass of the Tekakwitha Conference, which is "an Indigenous Catholic religious non-profit international organization. "The pope will be with us the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of that week," he added, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
When in February of 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced that Philadelphia would be the site of the next World Meeting of Families, he also declared his intention to attend. Upon his resignation, there was speculation about whether Pope Francis would go, but until now the visit had not been confirmed.
Pope Francis has yet released details of other potential cities to visit during the planned U.S. visit. He has received invitations to other cities including New York and Washington D.C., according to Catholic News. The National Catholic Reporter pointed out that given the tendency of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to take place in September, there is a chance that the pope may stop there.
The Associated Press notes that the Archdiocese has not officially confirmed the visit, despite Caput's remarks:
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Philadelphia Archdiocese says there is still no confirmation that Pope Francis will attend a major gathering of the world's Roman Catholics next year in the city, despite a report that the archbishop had said Francis would come.
The Catholic News Service reports that Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput (SHAP'-yoo) said Thursday in North Dakota that "Pope Francis has told me that he is coming" to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015.
But the archdiocese cautioned Friday that Chaput's comments weren't official confirmation. A Vatican spokesman also tells The Associated Press that although Francis has said "he is willing" to attend, there is "no operating plan or preparations underway" for a visit.
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.