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Pope Francis' Trip to the U.S: What is expected? Cardinal Wuerl weighs in

2015-07-28

The Pope's popularity is soaring among American Catholics. A recent Pew poll showed that nine out of 10 Catholics in the U.S. have a favorable impression of Pope Francis. This will definitely strike a high note when the Pope visits New York, Washington D.C and Philadelphia in late September. 

CARD. DONALD WUERL
Archbishop of Washington D.C 
"I think they are hearing the invitation of Pope Francis. The Pope Francis effect is real.” 

Cardinal Donald Wuerl is the Archbishop of Washington D.C. Even though there's no denying the Pope's popularity, he will have to face some thorny issues in America.  From divisions on the issue of gay marriage, to the Pope's encyclical on climate change. Then there's also the tension between the White House and the American Conference of Catholic bishops over religious liberty. 

One main issue will be the dwindling number of Christians in the U.S. 

A recent study on the changing religious landscape in America showed that the number of adults who identify as Christian, has dropped nearly eight percentage points in just seven years. The number of Americans who describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or 'nothing in particular' has jumped from 16 percent to 22. 

CARD. DONALD WUERL
Archbishop of Washington D.C 
"I hear that and I see that, but I don’t see that among our young people today. I see an increasing number of young people being actively engaged in the Church.”

The visit will combine the pastoral with the political. The Pope will lead the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia to promote the role of the family unit. But he will also travel to Cuba before heading to the U.S. He will meet with  President Barack Obama, address a joint session in Congress and speak before the United Nations in New York. 

CARD. DONALD WUERL
Archbishop of Washington D.C 
"He is going to see a multicultural Church. He is going to see the face of the Church throughout the world.” 

Despite the dwindling numbers, the U.S is still the country with the most Christians in the world. When it comes to Catholics, they make up about 24 percent of the population, which breaks down to roughly 78 million people. 

Interestingly, despite the decrease in Christianity,  the number of American seminarians who will be ordained priests increased 25 percent when compared to last year. 

In 2015, 595 American seminarians are expected to become priests, which is up from 477 in 2014. 


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