VATICAN CITY (AP) — Where should Pope Francis visit next year?
The USA, of course, where the pope’s “message needs to be heard” during a massive church celebration of the family in Philadelphia, U.S. officials said today.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter made their pitch to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, whose Pontifical Council for the Family is helping organize the Sept. 22-27 meeting.
Popes have attended five of the seven World Meetings of the Family, and Francis has made family issues the top priority of his pontificate. He also has a standing invitation to address the U.S. Congress and would presumably speak at the United Nations if he were on the East Coast.
But no confirmation of his participation is expected before next year.
The event will take place just before Francis convenes the second summit of the world’s bishops to discuss such thorny family issues as contraception, gay marriage and allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion.
Paglia said the Philadelphia meeting aimed to celebrate the “plurality” that both Philadelphia and the United States are known for.
“We can’t deal with family issues in a corner or on the side,” he said. “The debate that Pope Francis himself has asked for on these issues is a debate that is part of the life of the Catholic Church.”