Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter began his pitch today before the Pontifical Council for Families Tuesday in hopes to convince Pope Francis to visit Philadelphia next year.
Nutter’s short speech underscored why he thinks the 2015 World Meeting of Families will be a great event in Philly. Some of the major points he made were that Philadelphia is a city of can-so people and perseverance. "We are the place where America was invented," Nutter said. "Pope Francis' message needs to be heard in the United States of America."
Mayor Nutter told the Council that Philadelphia is a microcosm of the world and "we wish to prepare to receive the spiritual leader of the world."
Nutter got a big laugh from the room when talking about his upbringing he mentioned that he went to St. Joe's prep, "THE top Jesuit preparatory school!"
Nutter, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and other local dignitaries and religious leaders made their pitch to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, whose Pontifical Council for the Family is helping organize the Sept. 22-27 meeting.
Archbishop Charles Chaput ceremoniously signed an order to officially bring the WMOF to Philly. That agreement, however, doesn't guarantee Pope Francis will attend the meeting. Most remain optimistic that the pontiff will make the first papal visit to Philadelphia in decades.
Nutter said the celebration in Philadelphia offers Francis "a signature opportunity" to speak about family concerns to a huge audience.
The event will take place just before Francis convenes the second summit of the world's bishops to discuss such thorny family issues as contraception, gay marriage and allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion.
Paglia was asked at a press conference if families such as divorced Catholics might participate officially in the event, given that Francis himself has spoken of the difficulties faced by children growing up in non-traditional families.
Paglia said the Philadelphia meeting aimed to celebrate the "plurality" that both Philadelphia and the United States are known for.
"We can't deal with family issues in a corner or on the side," he said. "The debate that Pope Francis himself has asked for on these issues is a debate that is part of the life of the Catholic Church."