"In every stage of this trip, the Pope has always recalled the theme of the family. For him it was important that the direction of this trip was toward the World Meeting of Families."
As an example, Fr. Lombardi pointed to the final papal meeting in Cuba, which took place with a group of families at the Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba. The Pope spoke about family life and the importance of families.
He again highlighted the purpose for his trip shortly after arriving in the United States, when he said at the White House that he intended to "travel to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization."
With these words, the Pope "was short but was very clear" about his intentions, Fr. Lombardi said.
The Vatican press officer also noted the references to family in Pope Francis' address to the U.S. bishops and his remarks to Congress, as well as the comments on the human nature of men and women at the United Nations.
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After days of building up to the World Meeting of Families, the Holy Father will now deliver comments and celebrate Mass for an expected 1 million people in Philadelphia, Fr. Lombardi said, referring to the upcoming weekend as the "fundamental moment" in the nine-day papal trip.