Philly Archdiocese Plans Fundraising for "15 Event

Times Online
June 5, 2012

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia expects to launch a fundraising campaign to help pay for a major convocation of Roman Catholic families and possible papal visit in 2015, Archbishop Charles Chaput said Tuesday.

His remarks about the planned World Meeting of Families came the same day the archdiocese reported spending more than $11 million on legal fees in the past two years, mostly on priest sexual-abuse cases.

"We'll have to do some major fundraising, not just in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, but in our country," he said. "There will be a lot of work."

Chaput did not estimate the cost of the international gathering that could bring tens of thousands of people to the city. No dates have yet been chosen, but he said his best guess would be five days in July or August.

Pope Benedict XVI announced Sunday that Philadelphia would be the site of the convocation, which is held every three years. The news came at the close of the seventh World Meeting of Families in Milan.

Chaput was in Italy for the announcement, though he said he was notified of Philadelphia's selection about a month ago. In Milan, he was given the meeting's "icon" _ a large-scale mosaic of the Holy Family, which eventually will be displayed in Philadelphia, probably at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Back in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Chaput discussed creating a corporation to receive donations for the gathering. Registration fees for the event's workshops and lectures will help recoup some costs, he said, but local Catholic officials will need up-front money for space rentals and other items.

The archdiocese has "serious" financial problems, having for many years spent more money than it has brought in, Chaput said. Also, Tuesday's financial report doesn't include the most recent legal costs incurred by a landmark priest-abuse trial now in the hands of a Philadelphia jury.

Jurors on Tuesday finished their third day of deliberations in the case against Monsignor William Lynn, the archdiocese's former secretary for clergy. He has pleaded not guilty to charges he conspired to hide priest-abuse complaints and endangered children by keeping predators in ministry.

The weeks-long trial has cast a pall over the church, making the announcement of the World Meeting of Families most welcome, the archbishop said.

"I think God is giving us an opportunity to have some good news in the midst of a very difficult time," Chaput said.

He stressed the event is in its earliest stages and will be overseen by local, national and international planning committees. The schedule for the pope, who will be 88 years old in 2015, won't be known until several months before the gathering, Chaput said.

He also noted that he helped plan a similar event as a Colorado bishop. Pope John Paul II visited Denver for World Youth Day in 1993. Chaput described those preparations as "a very large, complicated matter."

The five-county Philadelphia archdiocese has about 1.5 million Catholics. The last papal visit was by Pope John Paul II in 1979.








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