Philadelphia was buzzing Friday after a report said Archbishop Charles Chaput had officially confirmed that Pope Francis would attend next September’s World Meeting of Families in the city.
By midafternoon, the archdiocese had “clarified” the comments with a written statement.
“There has been no official confirmation by the Vatican or The Holy See of Pope Francis’ attendance at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia,” communications director Kenneth Gavin said in a statement Friday afternoon.
Chaput made the announcement during the opening Mass of the Tekakwitha Conference in Fargo, North Dakota, on Thursday, the Catholic News Service reported.
The initial report had people on the streets of Philadelphia excited. The last Pope to visit the city was John Paul II in 1979, and more than a million people turned out.
“I’ve been waiting for these developments,” said Linda Hibbs, a Philadelphia resident. “A co-worker this morning showed me her phone and said that he was coming, and we were just planning then that we were going to go. It just means so much to see and be with the pope in person.”
“We’ve obviously been expecting him, and we’ll be very disappointed if he doesn’t come. He better come,” added Pat Schuyler, a parishioner of the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. “We’re Catholics, so we like any pope, but I think he’s doing a very good job. He’s a very kind man, very holy, and very humble.”
“While Archbishop Chaput’s comments do not serve as official confirmation, they do serve to bolster our sincere hope that Philadelphia will welcome Pope Francis next September,” the archdiocese statement concluded.
The pope has said all along that he would not confirm his visit any sooner than six months before the event.