On July 25, I reported that Pope Francis would be coming to the United States in September 2015 to attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. I was relaying the announcement by Archbishop Charles Chaput, archbishop of Philadelphia, that the pope would attend the meeting on September 25-27. Now, the Vatican says “Not so fast!”
According to Vatican Radio,
The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, issued a statement on Friday, saying the Pope has not confirmed his participation at the World Meeting for Families in Philadelphia in 2015. He made the clarification after Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia had declared earlier that the Pope would attend.
However, Fr. Lombardi said that while Pope Francis “has shown his willingness to participate…he has yet to launch any concrete plan or program regarding a trip to the U.S. or Mexico”.
How did this happen? Was this based on an informal conversation between the Cardinal and the Pope, similar to the conversation Pope Francis had with Italian atheist journalist Eugenio Scalfari? Did the Pope make an off-the-cuff promise, only to be confronted by Curial handlers who said, “Wait! You have a conflict on your schedule!”? I don’t know.
I find it extremely troubling that once again, we have to take a step back after this formal announcement; but I don’t know how it happened. I just wish it would stop happening–that Father Lombardi would be spared the responsibility for mop-ups after papal statements.
And I really hope he gets to come!
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In other news: The World Meeting of Families announced two patrons for next year’s conference: St. Pope John Paul II, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla, patron of mothers, physicians and unborn children.