Catholics hope pope will visit Arizona border in 2015

by Daniel Gonzalez and Ryan Van Velzer  |  published on November 20, 2014

Pope Francis has spoken out frequently in defense of migrants worldwide since taking over as head of the Roman Catholic Church nearly two years ago.

His concern for migrants, including tens of thousands of children who poured into the U.S. this year fleeing violence and poverty in Central America, is fueling speculation that he will include a visit to a border state, perhaps Arizona, when he makes his first papal trip to the United States next year.

The pope confirmed Monday that he will attend a massive Roman-Catholic-sponsored gathering in September in Philadelphia known as the World Meeting of Families.

A visit by the pope to the border would be “profoundly symbolic,” said Gerald Kicanas, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tucson.

Kicanas noted that on Francis’ first trip outside Rome, the pope visited the Italian island of Lampedusa, where migrants from Africa trying to reach the European Union frequently drown in rickety boats. “He has a deep interest in the plight of migrants,” Kicanas said.

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