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Friday, January 24, 2014 - 1:20pm
Pope Francis has expressed his intention to visit the United States next year for a major meeting of the Roman Catholic church, CNN Vatican analyst John Allen said Friday, citing Vatican sources.
The pope would attend the eighth World Meeting of Families, which has been held every three years since the late Pope John Paul II convened the first such gathering in 1994. The Vatican announced in February that the meeting will be held September 22-27, 2015, in Philadelphia.
A visit by Francis, the first pope from Latin America, would resonate with the nation's growing Latin American population.
Allen told CNN that the idea of the family has been a major concern for the church around the world, especially in light of the growing push for legal recognition of same-sex marriage.
The General Assembly of the United Nations generally meets in September, leading to speculation that Francis might combine the Philadelphia trip with a stop in New York to address the U.N., according to Allen, a correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.
While Vatican officials told Allen that Francis has expressed a desire to attend the Philadelphia meeting, no firm plans have been made. The Vatican does not confirm the dates of papal trips until shortly before they happen.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI indicated that he planned to attend the 2015 meeting in Philadelphia, which at the time was hosting a high-profile church sex abuse trial.
President Obama is planning to meet the Pope on March 27 at the Vatican.
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