Pope Francis confirmed today that he will attend the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
The announcement was made by the Pope in the Vatican just after 3 a.m. EST, while Archdiocese of Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput was present.
“I am overjoyed by Pope Francis’ announcement that he will join with us for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year," Chaput said in a statement confirming the announcement. "His charisma, presence and voice will electrify the gathering.”
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The pope's possible visit has been a subject of speculation for months.
Earlier this year Mayor Michael Nutter and Gov. Tom Corbett participated in a joint visit to the Vatican to make their personal entreaty to the Pope.
It would be Pope Francis' first visit to the United States, as well as the fourth time in history a sitting Pope has visited the United States.
The World Meeting of Families is scheduled for Sept. 25-27, 2015.
Details of the Pope's visit have not been finalized.
He may participate in a papal mass to be held on Sunday, Sept. 27 at the Basilica of SS Peter and Paul on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Such a mass is predicted to attract upwards of 1,000 people.
“As I’ve said many times before, I believe that the presence of the Holy Father will bring all of us – Catholic and non-Catholic alike – together in tremendously powerful, unifying and healing ways," Chaput said in his statement. "We look forward to Pope Francis’ arrival in Philadelphia next September and we will welcome him joyfully with open arms and prayerful hearts.”