Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church, has announced he will be speaking in Philadelphia later this month at the World Meeting of Families event to commence Pope Francis' highly anticipated visit to the United States.
Warren announced his plans to attend the event during the Sunday morning worship service at the Lake Forest, CA church.
"Next month, Pope Francis is coming to America for a world gathering on families," he told the congregation. "I'm not a Catholic, and we have many differences with Catholics. But they love the Lord and we have much in common with that - we believe in the Bible, and the Trinity, and in Jesus and the resurrection."
"There are probably going to be a million people in Philadelphia at this final event with Pope Francis, and he's asked me to be the final speaker," the Purpose Driven Life author continued amid cheering and applause.
According to its website, the World Meeting of Families is a "week-long international event of prayer, catechesis, and celebration that draws participants from around the globe." The 8th annual event, which organizers say will be attended by up to two million people, seeks to "strengthen the bonds between families and to witness the crucial importance of marriage and the family to all society."
While the World Meeting of Families will be held September 22-25, Pope Francis is expected to only participate in the closing events, held on September 26-27. Such events include the Festival of Families, an "intercultural celebration of family life around the world" on Saturday, and a Papal Mass on Sunday. Both events attended by the pontiff will take place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and will be open to the public.
Pope Francis' attendance of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia will culminate his week-long trip to the United States, during which he is also expected to visit Washington, D.C. and New York City.
While acknowledging there are differences between the two groups, Pastor Warren has in the past called on non-Catholic Christians to join with Pope Francis and the Catholic Church in pursuit of common goals, such as the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage.
In November, the pastor joined the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and 30 other global religious leaders for an interfaith Vatican conference on marriage and family, where he spoke on the "Biblical Meaning of Marriage."
"It's great to be with leaders from different streams of Christianity from all over the world," Warren said at the time. "Although we have some differences, we all love Jesus Christ and we all want marriage and families to be healthy and strong."