Pope Benedict XVI coming to Philadelphia for 2015 conference

Pope Benedict XVI today announced that Philadelphia will be the site of the eighth World Meeting of Families in 2015.

The pope made the announcement in Milan where this year’s meeting is wrapping up. Philadelphia will be the first U.S. city to host the major event, which is held every three years. Archbishop Charles Chaput, head of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, was also in Milan for the announcement.

“I send my warm greetings to Archbishop Charles Chaput and to the Catholics of that great city, and look forward to meeting them there along with numerous families from all around the world,” the pope said.

Chaput said Philadelphia is looking forward to hosting the event. “I am so grateful to the Holy Father that he has chosen Philadelphia and excited that we will host the 2015 World Meeting of Families. It’s fitting that this gathering, which celebrates the cornerstone of society, will take place in America’s cradle of freedom.”

Pope John Paul II, who instituted the meeting in 1992 to promote families and the institution of marriage, was the last pope to visit Philadelphia in 1979. That mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway drew one million people.

The announcement ends a busy week for the Catholic Church. Jurors heard closing arguments in the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, the first U.S. official charged in the priest sex-abuse scandal, and Rev. James Brennan, charged with attempted sexual assault of a teenage boy in 1996.

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