Boosters Raise $30 Million for World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis’ Visit to Philadelphia

Supporters of the upcoming World Meeting of Families conference have raised nearly three-quarters of the money they are seeking to put on the September event that will include a visit by Pope Francis.

The Catholic conference taking place September 22-25 has received $30 million in cash and in-kind pledges, organizers announced Friday. That's 67-percent of the fundraising goal of $45 million to host the weeklong event and papal visit that will follow.

The moneys raised will pay for operational costs like security, transpiration, infrastructure improvements and labor, organizers said.

"Wonderful generosity and great enthusiasm for the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis have defined our initial fundraising efforts," Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said in a statement.

Philadelphia will be the first U.S. city to host the World Meeting of Families. The conference focuses on problems facing families like broken relationships and budgeting as well as issues surrounding faith. The conference is expected to attract 20,000 attendees.

But 2 million people are expected to visit the city right after the conference is over, September 26 and 27, to see Pope Francis. The pontiff could spend up to three days in the city and will celebrate an outdoor Sunday mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Conference officials have not said how much of their fundraising would go toward the pope's time in Philadelphia.

Tourism leaders anticipate the event to generate more than $400 million in economic impact for the region.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter and Facebook.

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