Chaput: Pope’s Visit Could Lead to “Rebirth” of Archdiocese

"I am excited and scared at the same time. It's a big responsibility."

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput spoke publicly in Philadelphia on Monday, meeting the press for the first time since it was announced Pope Francis will visit the city next year for the World Meeting of Families.

AP reports Chaput hopes the visit will be a “rebirth” for an archdiocese battered by scandal and budget problems in recent years.

Archbishop Charles Chaput told reporters that the pope’s visit for the World Meeting of Families could be a blessing for the archdiocese, which has been dogged by scandals, including one involving the first U.S. church official charged with mishandling abuse complaints against clergy.

“I’m really enthusiastic about this now, and it could be a rebirth of the diocese, and I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Chaput said.

6ABC reports on the moment Chaput heard Pope Francis announce he would make the visit:

Archbishop Charles Chaput was in the room with Pope Francis in Rome last week when the pontiff announced that he will attend the World Meeting of Families.

Chaput said he’d known for months that the pope was coming to Philadelphia so he was thrilled to hear him finally make it official.

“Right before he spoke those words he pointed to me because he saw me as he was coming into the room and made a point of letting me know that finally he was responding to my persistent invitation for him to make an announcement about this,” Chaput said.

KYW has an additional tidbidt:

Chaput says he was standing next to Gov. Tom Corbett last spring when a delegation met with the pope on St. Peter’s Square, urging him to come to Philadelphia. And, says Chaput, the pope whispered in the governor’s ear that he intended to come.

“It was difficult for the governor not to tell everybody when he heard that,” Chaput said today. “But I think he kept the secret pretty well until the announcement. Actually, it wasn’t a secret. I mean, the pope has said to many people that he hoped to come. But it’s quite different to say ‘I hope to come’ than ‘I’m going to be there.’ “

The World Meeting of Families is scheduled for September 22-27, 2015. As many as 2 million people are expected to attend when Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the Parkway.