While addressing participants of a Vatican conference on traditional marriage, Pope Francis confirmed that he would visit the United States in the fall of next year.
"'I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families,' Francis, 77, speaking in Italian, told the crowd at the Vatican. 'Thank you for your prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. Bless you from my heart.'
"Only three other reigning popes have ever visited the United States: Paul VI in 1965; John Paul II, who traveled to the country seven different times; and Pope Benedict XVI, who visited the United States in April 2008."
Of course, this announcement comes as no surprise. As we reported, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in July that Francis had expressed his "willingness" to participate in the conference.
Francis has also received invitations to visit New York, the United Nations and Washington, D.C.