Pope Francis probably hasn’t even unpacked his bags yet after arriving home at the Vatican today from a weeklong trip to Asia, but he already is making plans for his trip this fall to the United States.
The pope told reporters aboard the papal plane he plans to speak at the United Nations in New York City, as well as to canonize Junipero Serro at at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., during his first trip to the country as pontiff.
He had confirmed late last year he would attend the end of the World Meeting of Families Sept. 22 to 27 in Philadelphia.
On Sunday, a member of the organizing committee for the upcoming U.S. visit told the Catholic News Agency that Pope Francis likely will visit the U.S. for a full week, stopping first in Washington, D.C., and New York City.
The committee has proposed the pope arrive in Washington on the evening of Sept. 22, according to Archbishop Bernardito Auza. He then would celebrate Mass with a group of bishops, consecrated and religious men and women, seminarians and representatives from Catholic charities at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Archbishop Auza said.
And it appears the pope may take John Boehner up on his offer to address a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives, he said.
The committee then proposes Pope Francis leave for New York City on the afternoon of Sept. 24, where he would speak at the opening of the U.N.’s three-day Post-2015 Sustainable Development Summit and visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Other proposed stops include an “interethnic meeting,” a visit to Ground Zero and possibly a Mass at Madison Square Garden, according to the archbishop.
Still, Archbishop Auza told CNA, “Our plan is not to have a huge Mass outside of Philadelphia, because the focus will really be Philadelphia, because the Pope is going to the United States for the World Meeting of Families.” That’s where the pope is scheduled to take part in a prayer vigil on Sept. 26 and outdoor Mass on Sunday, Sept. 27.
And, as the archbishop stressed to CNA, “These are just proposals.”
That means there’s still time for Pope Francis to work a stop in Chicago into his schedule.