By Mark Abrams
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With plans ramping up for the Philadelphia Archdiocese to host a Vatican-sponsored World Families Conference in September 2015 (see related story), there are questions about its cost and who will pay for it.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput acknowledges it cost officials in the Italian city of Milan more than $10 million to host the most recent Vatican Families Conference in June 2012.
He says Philadelphia can’t shoulder this burden alone, even though the event is two years off.
“Everybody knows that we’re having struggles here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia with our ordinary financial obligations, so I’m expecting to raise this money from outside sources as well as local gifts.”
To that end, Chaput says he has appointed a committee of lay persons to help him in those efforts. Mayor Michael Nutter also has agreed to help.
Archbishop Chaput says it’s very possible the new pope the church cardinals will elect next month will likely attend events here and that alone is sure to draw tens of thousands of people from around the world and across the country to Philadelphia.
Mayor Nutter says the city has the experience and expertise to handle big events.
“We were fortunate to have a papal visit once before,” Nutter says. “We have facilities today that we didn’t have back then. We are more that prepared to logistically handle something like this.”
Pope John Paul II visited Philadelphia in 1979, capping off his stay with a Mass on the parkway that drew an estimated crowd of a million people.