Philadelphia Archbishop Hopes Pope's Fall Visit Brings 'New Evangelical Energy' to Catholic Church

Pope Francis will be in Philadelphia in September as part of his first US trip.

BySTEPHANIE EBBS
April 05, 2015, 4:43 PM

— -- Easter is typically the busiest time of the year for officials in the Catholic Church, but one archbishop is already thinking several months ahead.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput is getting ready for Pope Francis' first visit to the U.S. this September. The archbishop told ABC's David Wright in an interview for "This Week" that he looks forward to showing the pope "an active, vibrant Catholic Church in the United States," and hopes the visit could be transformative for Catholicism in the United States.

"Everywhere I go, I find people who want the church to be a significant part of their lives and I'm always heartened by that," Archbishop Chaput said. "People who have been disappointed in the church are looking to have hope."

"I'm hoping ... that the visit of the Holy Father here will be the beginning of a new evangelical energy in the church in Philadelphia," he added.

An outdoor public mass by Pope Francis along Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway -- near the iconic "Rocky" steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum -- is expected to draw some 2 million people to the city.

"I'm most excited and anxious at the same time, because we have a lot of responsibilities for protecting the Holy Father and protecting the people who come to see him," Chaput said.

This isn't Archbishop Chaput's first experience with a papal visit to the United States. He attended Pope John Paul II's visit to Denver, Colorado, for the International Youth Forum in 1993.

"That was an extraordinary transformative moment in the life of Denver, the broader community. It became a world city," Chaput said.

Along with his visit to Philadelphia Sept. 26-27, Pope Francis will also visit New York and Washington, including stops at the White House and an expected address to Congress.

During the pope's visit, Philadelphia will also host the World Meeting of Families, a conference for international Catholic leaders that will focus on issues facing families all over the world.

Chaput said Pope Francis has brought a different perspective as the first pope from Latin America and has brought a renewed focus on caring for the needy.

"Certainly Pope Francis is calling all of us to reform our personal lives in relation to God, but also to, in a more obvious way, care for the poor," Chaput said.

"He's bringing those gifts to the forefront in our living the Catholic faith in the world today," he added. "And I think it's a great gift, a great gift for all of us."

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