Today is one of great joy for our Archdiocese, our City, our Commonwealth and our country! It was a privilege to be in the presence of our Holy Father this morning in Rome when he announced to the world that he will be with us in Philadelphia next year for the World Meeting of Families.
This moment is an historic and exhilarating one for all of us to share. It is the answer to the countless prayers of so many people who have asked God to guide Pope Francis to Philadelphia, the culmination of many months of hopeful anticipation, and the fulfillment of my own confidence that the Holy Father would grace us with his presence next year. It will mark his first ever visit to the United States of America as pope and he will be only the fourth pope to visit our nation. Words cannot sufficiently express how overjoyed I am by this most welcome news and I know so many of you share that feeling. These are the kinds of emotions that have one source—the true love of Jesus Christ filling our hearts.
A hallmark of Pope Francis’ ministry has been a genuine love for all people of good will and he has maintained a keen focus on the many diverse challenges that families face globally. I’ve loved and admired him since we first met at the Synod for the Americas in 1997. I know that the Holy Father’s charisma, presence and voice will electrify our gathering. Regardless of confessional differences, billions around the world have been drawn to this pope. Our gathering in Philadelphia is open to all who have a generous heart. It has the power to transform, in deeply positive ways, not just the spirit of Catholic life in our region, but of our entire community. It will be a moment unlike any other.
As I’ve said many times before, Pope Francis’ presence will bring all of us – Catholic and non-Catholic alike – together in tremendously unifying and healing ways. We now eagerly anticipate Pope Francis’ arrival in Philadelphia next September. We will be ready and we will welcome him joyfully with open arms and prayerful hearts! Let us all raise our voices in thanksgiving to almighty God for the gift of Pope Francis and for the Holy Father’s decision to come to Philadelphia.