"A Gift to Philadelphia and the Whole Nation"
"I am so grateful to the Holy Father that he has chosen Philadelphia and excited that we will host the 2015 World Meeting of Families. It's fitting that this gathering, which celebrates the cornerstone of society, will take place in America's cradle of freedom. The Holy Father's choice is a gift to the local Church in Philadelphia and to the whole nation.In comments to Catholic News Service, Chaput said that, given the difficult financial situation of the Philadelphia church, he made clear to Vatican officials that the city could only host the event if it were considerably smaller -- planned for some "60,000 to 80,000" people -- than earlier editions of the WMF. (The crowd at today's closing Mass in Milan, for example, reportedly topped out at a million.)
"The family is founded on a deep and loving union between one man and one woman for mutual support and the nurturing of children. This meeting in Philadelphia will be a wonderful opportunity to highlight the family as the basic evangelizing unit of the Church. Every effort to promote marriage and the family serves not only the Church, but also the common good."
Even with that proviso, Philly got the nod.
"I hope that [the meeting] will be a way of celebrating our commitment to be a church of the new evangelization that looks forward to the future with confidence and joy," the archbishop said.
According to a Chancery release, at this morning's closing liturgy of the Milan Meeting, the Capuchin prelate was entrusted with an icon of the Holy Family, which serves as the traveling symbol of the triennial event.
Chaput is scheduled to return to the newly named host-city late tomorrow.
SVILUPPO: Reacting to this morning's announcement, the leader of a Philadelphia church-reform group indicated Sunday afternoon that she would boycott a Papal Visit to the city.
In a post on her Catholics4Change website, Susan Matthews said that, if the beleaguered archdiocese's selection to host the World Meeting of Families was a "gift," she would "exchange it for one that includes enforced policies on clergy child sex abuse."
"The hierarchy has rendered itself irrelevant with misplaced priorities," Matthews wrote. "They lost all credibility on the subject of family when child rape wasn’t appropriately addressed here in Philadelphia and elsewhere around the world."
A former staffer at the archdiocesan newspaper, the Catholic Standard and Times, while the survivor advocate took part in the 1979 visit of Blessed John Paul II, she said "there will be one less [Philadelphia] Catholic there to greet Pope Benedict in 2015."
In 2001, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was given global oversight of clergy sex-abuse cases amid his insistence that the Congregation for the Clergy -- which, until that time, managed the Vatican's response to allegations -- had failed to act with sufficiently "rigorous and consistent" concern for the protection of children. Since becoming Pope, Benedict has likewise made it a standing point to meet with victim-survivors of abuse on every trip he's taken to a place impacted by the crisis; the first of the emotional, strictly-private gatherings took place in Washington during the pontiff's 2008 visit to the East Coast.
Meanwhile, as the potential PopeTrip story led local news with largely warm coverage through the day in the nation's fourth-largest media market, this afternoon the Philadelphia Curia quietly revealed the closing of two more parishes on July 1st.
The move brings to nine the number of communities slated to consolidate next month in the first wave of an extensive pastoral planning effort slated to run through 2015.