The central figure of Catholicism could be visiting Philadelphia for an international meeting to be held in September 2015 if the leaders of the city and state have their way.
At a press conference this morning, Gov. Tom Corbett, Mayor Michael Nutter and Archdiocese of Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced that they will travel together to the Vatican and appeal directly to the pope on the merits of him visiting Philadelphia for the upcoming World Meeting of Families.
"We are going to plan as if the Holy Father is coming," Nutter said at a press conference this morning at the archdiocese. "I'm not even going to entertain the possibility that he's not coming."
Archbishop Chaput, Nutter and Corbett will embark on the four-day trip March 23.
They estimated at the press conference that a papal visit to the City of Brotherly Love could mean up to $100 million in local revenue, and attendance of as many as two million people.
The Eighth World Meeting of Families, a Catholic celebration founded by Pope John Paul II in 1994, will take place on Sept. 22-27, 2015, in Philadelphia. It is the first World Meeting of Families scheduled to happen in the U.S.
Corbett and Nutter are honorary co-chairs of the World Meeting of Families.
The event is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of Catholics and others to the region. With the pope, that number would be even higher.