Pope Francis will be coming stateside. According to the Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles J. Chaput, the Pope has accepted his offer to visit the U.S. for next year’s World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia at the end of September.
The conference is held every three years in a different city around the world, and while the spokesperson for the Vatican says the visit has not been confirmed, Archbishop Chaput said that, “Pope Francis has told me he is coming.” If the Pope does come, he will likely address the United Nations and potentially a session of Congress.
Pope Francis’ coming visit has generated excitement throughout the American Catholic community. Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Illinois remarked, “The Hispanic population is growing in the United States, and with the vast majority being Catholic, having the first Pope from Latin America come to visit will be very exciting."
Professor Gaillardetz, a Theology professor at BC, said that while here the Pope would potentially address the issue of sexual abuse and the resulting cover-ups within the Church. It is also likely that American bishops will push for the Pope to speak about religious liberty.
Recent controversial cases, such as Supreme Court cases over insurance mandates and contraceptive coverage, have made many Catholics feel as though religious liberty in the U.S. is threatened. However, when the Pope has addressed these issues, he has done so in the global context, focusing instead on areas like the Middle East where religious conflict frequently spills over into violence.
Professor Gaillardetz said he hopes the Pope ignores the debate over perceived threats to religious liberty in the U.S., adding that, “Pope Francis seems very committed to issues of income inequality and the plight of refugees so I would expect him to speak to both of those issues here in the US. I personally hope he will continue to talk about a church that is of and for the poor and continue his plea for bishops and priests who are less interested in prestige and control and more committed to humbly accompanying their people.”