The upcoming World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia will place families, not definitions or ideologies, at the center. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said this during a press conference today.
Archbishop Paglia, along with Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, Auxiliary Bishop John McIntyre and Jerry & Lucille Francesco, a couple from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, presented details of the meeting and the significance of the Holy Father’s presence.
“We are exactly three months away from the meeting in Philadelphia,” Archbishop Paglia noted. Technicians in the United States, he continued, said that “it is one of the biggest events that will gather so many people in the United States and in Philadelphia.”
“In Philadelphia, the city of America’s Independence, the [Liberty] bell will sound for the family. The family is at the center of the meeting in Philadelphia,. Not the definition or the ideology of the family, but the families.”
Archbishop Paglia went on to say that the event will also include conferences that will present scientific findings showing how the family is “the most important resource for society.”
One of the highlights of the Pope’s visit, he continued, will be at the end of the Mass on Sunday, September 27th. The Holy Father will give millions of signed copies of the Gospel of St. Luke the families from five major cities of the world: Kinshasa (Africa), Havana (The Americas), Hanoi (Asia), Sydney (Australia) and Marseille (Europe).
The gesture, he said, would bring at the forefront “the universality of this event.”
For his part, Archbishop Chaput said that one of the main events will be the World Meeting of Families Congress from September 22 – 27th, which will see the participation of some 15,000 people from around the world.
“The congress is an opportunity for everyone, whether Catholic or of another faith, who believe the family to be the cornerstone of society, to join together in an effort to strengthen its sacred bonds and reaffirm its importance in all of our lives,” Archbishop Chaput said.
On the eve of the Holy Father’s Mass, there will be an Intercultural Celebration for the Families. Pope Francis, he said, will be present for a portion of that celebration on Saturday evening. It will also include a concert that will see the presence of world-renowned artists Andrea Bocelli, Juanes, as well as the Philadelphia’s Philharmonic Orchestra. 750,000 to one million people are expected to attend the festival on Saturday evening and upward of 1.5 million people are expected to attend the Papal Mass the following day.
The final itinerary of the Holy Father’s visit, he said, will be announced next week by the Holy See.
The Archbishop of Philadelphia went on to describe the organizational efforts taking place to ensure that pilgrims will fully participate at the event.
“I’m proud to share that Pope Francis has said the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia is the central purpose for his visit to the United States this year,” he said. “Please join us as we welcome him to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.”