Local delegation lobbies Vatican for pope visit in 2015

VATICAN CITY - March 25, 2014

At a morning meeting between Vatican officials and the Philadelphia delegation, the mayor's gift of a commemorative Liberty Bell served as a metaphor for what all hope will be a transformative event.

"The bell of Philadelphia will ring for the joy of full family of the world," said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.

Archbishop Paglia is the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Vatican's planning arm for next year's World Meeting in Philadelphia.

Why the City of Brotherly Love?

"Philadelphia because we have the old and the importance of the United States," said Archbishop Paglia.

Each World Meeting of Families has a theme and though this year's has not yet been approved, several logistics did emerge Tuesday.

First, Archbishop Chaput announced he's secured the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the duration of the week-long event. It is big enough, he says, to accommodate crowds for daily sessions that could number in the thousands.

Angling to secure the Pope's attendance, he also touted the Ben Franklin Parkway. He called it the perfect setting for what could be a massive Papal Mass on the order of, if not bigger then, the crowds that gathered there for Pope John Paul II in 1979.

"The beautiful Parkway in which we could hold a wonderful gathering for a couple million people for an event of witness and celebration," said Archbishop Chaput.

A glimpse at the event's cost was also revealed.

Planners used the last meeting in Milan as a guide. That one, they said, cost as much as $15 million.

All of the costs, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia plans to pay for, much of it coming from private fundraising.

"So far we have raised about $5 million right now but we are working to raise more," said Archbishop Chaput.

The hope is to raise well more than what's needed and any unused funds will be given to the Pope, as a gift to the poor.

A spokesperson for the delegation says that they will now be meeting with the Pope, not privately on Wednesday, but during a public, general audience.

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