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June 12, 2014

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Invites Pope Francis to Attend the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia 2015

New Orleans, LA (June 12, 2014) - Yesterday at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) spring plenary meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, the bishops articulated their collective support for the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia 2015 by approving a letter to Pope Francis inviting him to the upcoming international conference, which will be held September 22-27, 2015.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput O.F.M. Cap. invited both his fellow bishops and families from their home dioceses to Philadelphia next year for the World Meeting of Families, encouraging them inspire families everywhere to attend.

Archbishop Chaput also addressed the possibility of a papal visit stating, "Obviously a papal visit is never official until the Holy See confirms it. And that rarely happens this far in advance. But we do have good reasons to believe that Pope Francis will take part in the meeting, and we're planning to welcome him wholeheartedly."

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, President of the USCCB, read a letter inviting the Holy Father to the World Meeting of Families in the presence of all of the bishops, who enthusiastically approved the text.

Text of Archbishop Kurtz' Letter to the Holy Father

Most Holy Father,

Assembled in New Orleans at our spring plenary meeting, we the Catholic Bishops of the United States look forward with joyful anticipation to the Eighth World Meeting of Families that is scheduled to take place in Philadelphia in September 2015. This event will be an occasion for Catholics from around the world to reflect on family life, and the role that families can play in strengthening our society and our Catholic faith.

We wish to take this opportunity to warmly invite Your Holiness to grace us with your presence at this event.

We have no doubt that the participants would be deeply honored, and would receive with gratitude your pastoral reflections on the meaning of the family.

It is our fervent hope, Your Holiness, that you will favorably consider our invitation to visit us in the United States. Your presence would not only add significance to the World Meeting of Families, but also serve to deepen the bonds of affection that our faithful and many other Americans share with you as Bishop of Rome.

Respectfully and fraternally yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D.
Archbishop of Louisville
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Remarks of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

I have two brief tasks today. My first task is to invite you and the families in all of your parishes back home to come to Philadelphia next year for the World Meeting of Families 2015.

As most of us know, this is a gathering every three years not just for Catholics in a particular country or region, but a celebration designed for the global Church. We've already been blessed with the strong support of Pennsylvania's governor and Philadelphia's mayor. We also have the enthusiastic help of major corporations and business leaders, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. And that's a good thing, because the cost of next year's meeting will easily run into the tens of millions of dollars.

I'm confident we can raise those resources. But we do need your help in publicizing the World Meeting of Families in your own dioceses, and encouraging families everywhere to attend.

The dates for the 2015 meeting are September 22-27. Obviously a papal visit is never official until the Holy See confirms it. And that rarely happens this far in advance. But we do have good reasons to believe that Pope Francis will take part in the meeting, and we're planning to welcome him wholeheartedly. We expect up to 15,000 attendees for the first three days of the family congress, but well over 1 million for the Pope's visit on the concluding Saturday and Sunday.

Philadelphia is the birthplace of our country. It's a city rich in history, beauty, culture, entertainment and really marvelous food. So it's a wonderful place for families to visit and enjoy, while also deepening their faith. We've also studied what worked and didn't work about past world family meetings. We're committed to making our content engaging and our logistics simple and smooth. That means a wide variety of very practical speakers and breakout sessions on the real issues facing today's families, and also plenty of opportunities for enjoyment and entertainment.

We have the full cooperation of Philadelphia's public safety and transportation services, more than enough hotel accommodations and a great centralized venue for nearly all our events in Philadelphia's new Convention Center.

All of our events will have simultaneous translation in major languages. We'll be offering scholarships to representatives of poor dioceses from around our hemisphere and the world. And we're making a special effort to include the poor, the disabled and the elderly in the flow of all our events.

World Meeting of Families 2015 comes at a time when the Church in the United States urgently needs an opportunity for joy and renewal. It's also a time of great confusion about the nature of marriage and the family.

Our goal is to exclude no one from the excitement of this meeting. Our goal is to offer the beauty of Catholic teaching about marriage and the family with confidence and a spirit of invitation to every person of good will. That's the heart of our theme: "Love is our mission; the family fully alive." Just as St. Irenaeus taught that "the glory of God is man fully alive," so too the glory of men and women is their capacity to love as God loves. And nowhere is that love more powerfully modeled than in a faithful, natural family of mother, father and children. We want to show that truth persuasively to the world.

Our website is, and we'll be sending you ample information about the meeting in the weeks ahead. So again, please pray for the success of this gathering. And please help it succeed by urging your priests, deacons, religious and people to come to Philadelphia next year to be part of this extraordinary event.

My second task today is a personal pleasure. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia helped found the Community of Sant'Egidio in Rome, went on to become bishop of Terni-Narni-Amelia in Italy, and is now the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. In that role he serves as the council's guiding spirit in service to the Holy Father, and he has overall responsibility for the tri-annual World Meeting of Families.

Archbishop Paglia has a long history of inter-religious dialogue and of building bridges across religious divides. And he's been intimately involved in the planning for our Philadelphia gathering in 2015. So I ask you to join me in welcoming him for his own brief remarks.


About World Meetings of Families
Beginning with 1994, The Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Family has been responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families in Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); and now, Philadelphia (2015). Since its inception by Saint John Paul II, the World Meeting of Families has sought to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe.

Kenneth Gavin
Director of Communications

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