Retiring Pope Benedict XVI has chosen Philadelphia to host a major conference in 2015.
It could bring hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.
The Eighth World Meeting of Families will be held in Philadelphia in September 2015 and Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput says it could be the first U.S. visit for the pope being selected to succeed Benedict.
“Is the pope coming? I certainly hope so and can’t imagine that he won’t but I can’t promise that he will be,” said Chaput. “The pope generally goes to these, I just can’t imagine that he wouldn’t come, but I don’t really know definitively.”
Gov. Tom Corbett and Mayor Michael Nutter have been named honorary co-chairs of the event.
“The World Meeting of Families is an incredible opportunity to showcase the city of Philadelphia on the international stage,” said Nutter. “This will be one of the largest, if not the largest event we will have ever hosted and we will welcome an international audience.”
If the pope comes, there would be an outdoor mass for hundreds of thousands. When Pope John Paul II came in 1979 the crowd stretched from Logan Circle all the way to the Art Museum.
Archbishop Chaput says he plans to address sexual abuse in the church as part of the event.
“We will probably have some workshops on the effects of sexual abuse in the undermining of family life, and those sort of things we’ll put all that together healing not only the Catholic community but individuals who have been hurt,” said Chaput.
The effort is now underway to raise more than $10 million to finance the conference.