VATICAN CITY (RNS) Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput says hot-button socio-sexual issues won’t be the central focus when the World Meeting of Families welcomes Pope Francis to the City of Brotherly Love next year.
Chaput told a Vatican conference on marriage and the family Wednesday (Nov. 19) that next year’s event comes “at a critical moment in global culture” and will address a broader scope of concerns.
“It will deal with a wide range of family issues where our religious faith is both needed and tested,” Chaput said.
“These are matters that affect all families, not only in the United States but on a world scale. So we want to focus next year not just on the neuralgic sexual issues that seem to dominate the American media.”
Reflecting the change in emphasis under Pope Francis that was evident at the recent Vatican Synod on the Family, the four-day event in Philadelphia will look at poverty and the family, marital intimacy, raising children and the impact of divorce, as well as issues affecting the elderly and the disabled.
On Monday, Francis confirmed that he would attend the event on his first official visit to the U.S. Chaput said the pope’s September visit is expected to attract more than 1 million people to Philadelphia.
The conservative archbishop said the eighth meeting of families would have an interfaith component, with Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Mormon and other faiths represented “to involve the wider public in this celebration.”
Speakers will include Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley; Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle; and Cardinal Robert Sarah from Guinea, who heads the Vatican body responsible for human and Christian development.
Chaput said scholarships to attend the event would be offered for cash-strapped couples from 22 dioceses in the U.S., and others in Canada, Mexico, South America and the Caribbean.
KRE/MG END McKENNA