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Pope Francis has expressed willingness to attend a Catholic conference in Philadelphia in 2015, but the Vatican has not officially confirmed the trip, according to a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Catholic New Services reported that Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced Thursday that Pope Francis had accepted his invitation to attend the World Meeting of Families in September 2015 — which would be the pontiff's first visit to the U.S. since becoming pope — sparking a flurry of excitement among American Catholics who are awaiting a papal visit.
Archbishop Chaput's comments do not indicate official confirmation, but "they do serve to bolster our sincere hope that Philadelphia will welcome Pope Francis next September," Archdiocese of Philadelphia spokesman Kenneth A. Gavin said in a statement Friday. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ in early June invited Pope Francis to the conference. "Participants would be deeply honored, and would receive with gratitude your pastoral reflections on the meaning of the family," the letter read. An official response from the Vatican can be expected six months before the event, Gavin said.
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— Elisha Fieldstadt