As registration opens for the upcoming World Meeting of Families, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia said that the gathering will be a chance to strengthen the Church throughout the whole world. “The World Meeting of Families is a moment of grace for Catholics and other people of good will from around the globe,” the archbishop said. ”That’s our goal. That’s the reason for our enthusiasm.” Addressing his fellow bishops from across the country, gathered in Baltimore Nov. 10 for their annual fall general assembly, Archbishop Chaput gave an update on the World Meeting of Families. During his remarks, he announced the official opening of registration for the event at worldmeeting2015.org. Numerous scholarships are available for couples across the U.S. and around the world. Scheduled to take place Sept. 22-27, 2015, the eighth World Meeting of Families will take place in Philadelphia. Held every three years, the event was established by St. John Paul II in 1994 with the Year of the Family aimed at strengthening family bonds around the world. It is widely expected that Pope Francis will attend the event, and Archbishop Chaput said that there have been “many hopeful signs that he does intend to come,” although confirmation of the visit from the Vatican is unlikely until 2015. The event is expected to draw 8,000-12,000 participants during the week, and more than 1 million for the weekend papal events, the archbishop stated. He explained that the World Meeting of Families “will deal with a wide range of family issues where our faith is both needed and tested. These are matters that affect families not only here in the United States but on a global scale.” The goal, Archbishop Chaput said, is to focus “not just on the neuralgic sexual issues that seem to dominate the American media, but on things like the family and poverty, the family and addiction, the family and children with disabilities, the loss of a spouse, the effect of divorce and co-parenting, health and wellness as building blocks to preserving the family, creating real intimacy between husband and wife, the challenges of raising children, the role of grandparents, the parish as a support community for families, and similar themes.” In addition, he said, “we want to involve the whole community in this celebration, which is why we’ve included Jewish, Muslim and Protestant presenters on issues that we all share - regardless of confessional divides.” Planning for the event is well underway, and the schedule includes both keynote talks and breakout sessions each day, as well as family entertainment events in the evenings. Live translations will be available in numerous languages, including Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian. Speakers for the event have largely been confirmed, and will include Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, George Mason law professor Helen Alvare, Catholic evangelist Fr. Robert Barron, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, and Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. While the cost of the event is “very heavy,” Archbishop Chaput acknowledged, more than half of the cost has been raised already, and there has been “wonderful cooperation from city, state and federal authorities,” as well as the local business community. “So we’ve made good progress, but we still have a long way to go,” the archbishop said, adding that financial data will be published next year. He emphasized the opportunity that the World Meeting of Families presents to transform both the local and global Church. “During my service in Denver I had the privilege of seeing all the good seeds sown by World Youth Day 1993 come to fruition,” Archbishop Chaput said. “That one event changed the life of the Church in Colorado fundamentally for the better.” “If we give our hearts to this effort, and put our trust in the God who loves us, the World Meeting of Families next year can do the same — not just for the Church in Philadelphia, and not just for the Church in our country.”
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