Coming to America: Pope Francis confirms his first visit to the U.S. as he announces trip to Philadelphia
- Today confirmed he will visit Philadelphia in September next year
- Catholic officials said papal mass in the city would attract up to a million
- Trip is also expected to include visits to Washington DC and New York
Pope Francis has confirmed he will visit the United States next year in what will be his first trip as leader of the Catholic Church.
He told an inter-religious conference on marriage at the Vatican that he will be travelling to Philadelphia in September for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families.
Although not mentioned in his address, the trip is also expected to include stops at the White House and Congress in Washington DC and the United Nations in New York.
Pope Francis told a conference today that he will travel to Philadephia on his first trip to the U.S. next year
Pope Francis laughs with Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith About Marriage today
Earlier this summer, Francis had said he hoped to make the September meeting – but he confirmed it today.
He said: ‘I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.’
The official confirmation of the trip was keenly awaited in the United States after months of speculation.
Pope Francis and President Barack Obama exchanged gifts during a private audience in March this year at the Vatican
He will be only the fourth reigning pontiff to visit the States.
In 1965, Pope Paul VI was the first ever pontiff to go to America followed by Pope John Paul II who visited seven times during his papacy.
Pope Benedict XVI went in April 2008, which included a meeting with President Bush, an address at the United Nations and a visit to Ground Zero and the Yankee Stadium in New York.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, who is organizing the meeting, welcomed the news.
He said he ‘applauded the loudest’ after the Pope made the announcement.
His three-day visit to the city will include a public Sunday mass on the Ben Franklin Parkway on September 27 and officials estimated it would attract up to a million people.
The pope is due to visit Turkey and European institutions in Strasbourg, France in two separate trips later this month.
In January, he travels to the Philippines and Sri Lanka, in his second trip to Asia.
Pope Francis delivers his blessing during the Angelus noon prayer from his studio’s window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican on Sunday