With his highly anticipated trip to Philadelphia a few days away, Pope Francis sent a personal invitation to pilgrims all around the world and the city of Brotherly Love.
"I look forward to greeting the pilgrims and the people of Philadelphia when I come for the World Meeting of Families," the Pontiff said in a video message. "I will be there because you will be there! See you in Philadelphia."
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput called the Pope's message "beautiful and humbling."
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"His personal call to each of us and his desire to be with all during his visit to Philadelphia is deeply moving," Archbishop Chaput said. "I hope that all who hear his words will allow them to touch their hearts and be compelled to join in this moment of grace, love and community. Simply put, this moment will not come again."
Donna Crilley Farrell, Executive Director of the World Meeting of Families, called the Pope's words "awe-inspiring."
"While we are immensely touched by his words, we cannot say that we are surprised by such a personal and loving gesture," she said. "It is Pope Francis' willingness to engage us all at such a human level that defines his papacy. I have no doubt that the Holy Father's personal invitation to all will be met with a resounding response from Catholics and non-Catholics alike."
Officials say the Pope's message will be integrated into the World Meeting of Families' "I'll Be There" campaign which encourages businesses and residents in our area to get involved in the historic event.
Pope Francis arrived in Havana, Cuba, Saturday and urged Cuban and U.S. governments to push ahead on their newly forged path toward normal relations. On Monday he will fly to Holguin, Cuba to celebrate Mass and will then fly to the eastern city of Santiago. He will spend the night there and celebrate a major Mass at the sanctuary of Cuba's patron, the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, before flying to Washington, DC on Tuesday.
Pope Francis will spend two days in DC before visiting New York City Thursday and Friday. He will then leave New York and arrive in Philadelphia Saturday to attend the World Meeting of Families. During his time in Philly, Pope Francis will speak at Independence Mall and hold a Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.