By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church based in Philadelphia says he has reached out to the Vatican directly, asking Pope Francis to put his cathedral on the list of stops the pope plans to make when he comes to the city for the World Meeting of Families in September.

Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan Soroka, who is based at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, says he personally wrote to Pope Francis, urging him to consider coming to pray and address the Eastern Rite faithful.

“We’re hopeful, we realize the schedule and tremendous demands placed upon him for the visit,” Soroka says. “We have to be understanding and considerate. But still, we very much want to see the Holy Father visit the Ukrainian Catholic cathedral here in Philadelphia.”

Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan Soroka (credit: Mark Abrams)

Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan Soroka (credit: Mark Abrams)

Soroka says Pope John Paul II made a stop at the Ukrainian cathedral when he visited Philadelphia in 1979.

Soroka, a seminarian at the time, was present and described it as a very prayerful and moving experience for all present.

The archbishop says a visit from Pope Francis would give him an opportunity to pray for Christians suffering persecution in the Ukraine and throughout the Middle East.