We thought that it would happen: We believed that Pope Francis would honor his predecessor Benedict XVI’s commitment and would participate in the World Meeting of Families, planned for September 2015 in Philadelphia.
In fact, I reported last month that Archbishop Charles Chaput had announced the Pope’s plans to visit the City of Brotherly Love. Archbishop Chaput said that the Holy Father would be present for the last days of the conference, Friday-Sunday, September 25-27, 2015.
But then the Vatican press office took a step back. Maybe he’ll come, they said, but his schedule hasn’t been firmed up yet.
I can appreciate the problems caused for the pope’s schedulers, accustomed to planning the fine details of papal travel and papal speeches before a formal announcement is made. Pope Francis repeatedly circumvents the cautious papal handlers, going right to the people or to the press. And he did it again on the plane to Korea–telling NBC reporter Anne Thompson that he is indeed coming to that meeting.
NBC reporter Anne Thompson said on the “Today” show Thursday that Pope Francis replied yes when she asked him Thursday if he would come to Philadelphia. She says he then mentioned the World Meeting of Families, an annual event that is being held in Philadelphia in September 2015.