While many of us are focusing on who the next pope will be, an announcement made yesterday gives us a big clue about when we will first have the opportunity to see the new pope on American soil — whoever he turns out to be:
“His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, announces the official dates for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, which will be celebrated in the United States for the first time in its history. It is expected to draw tens of thousands from around the world to the City of Philadelphia.
…Subsequently, in a letter dated January 11, 2013, the Secretary of State officially confirmed that the actual dates for this VIII World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia will be September 22-27, 2015.”
Philadelphia is an excellent choice and richly deserving of the honor of hosting the new pontiff and the World Meeting of Families.
Pope Benedict had attended part of the last World Meeting of Families in Milan (pictured at right) and said at the time that he intended to attend the next meeting in 2015.
That promise’s fulfillment now falls to whoever his successor will be.
The closing Mass for the last World Meeting of Families had nearly a million people in attendance. This upcoming meeting will probably be far smaller, but the interest in and chance of seeing the new pope could add to the draw.
My recommendation? Book travel and lodging early.
Oh and incidentally, when it comes to being a leading voice for families, Archbishop Charles Chaput and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia were first to endorse the newly-announced March for Marriage in addition to always being a very active presence at the annual March for Life.