SAN ANTONIO — The Roman Catholic archbishop of San Antonio urged church members across Texas on Thursday to help defray the $2.5-million cost of Pope John Paul II's proposed visit to the city in September, 1987.
Church officials predicted a swift, enthusiastic response from church members.
"You wouldn't believe the number of people who call, people wanting to do anything and everything--'I'll cook for you. I'll fly the plane.' I think every other home in San Antonio has been offered to me as a place for the Pope to stay," said Archbishop Patrick Flores of San Antonio, who has more than 500,000 Roman Catholics under his jurisdiction.
"We don't think raising funds will be a problem. The only thing we're doing is sending a letter to every Catholic on our roster--with an envelope," Flores told a news conference this week.
While making the first official announcement acknowledging the proposed visit, Flores repeatedly stressed that the 13 dioceses of Texas had yet to receive "what we call the formal, final, official confirmation" from Rome.
"We have the first step--unofficial confirmation of the visit," he said.
An outdoor papal Mass is tentatively scheduled Sept. 13 in San Antonio.
"This is a historical event that will be an inspiration. This is a great honor," Flores said.
The $2.5 million is expected to cover costs of education, transportation, security, construction of an altar, sound system and sanitary facilities for the planned Mass, for which a location has not been announced.
The Pope probably will visit the historic San Fernando Cathedral, but Flores said it is not known what other local stops are planned.
Flores said the Pope will stay at his apartment.
The National Conference of Catholic Bishops included San Antonio among stops on the Pope's proposed visit next year to the southern and western United States because of its religious history, its large Roman Catholic population and its location. The city is predominantly Latino.
The proposed visit also is expected to include Miami, New Orleans and Los Angeles, as well as stops in Columbia, S.C., Phoenix and Monterey, Calif., Flores said.
Flores proposed the Texas trip to the Pope in 1983.
"He seems to be very knowledgeable about Texas," Flores said. "He said, 'Next time I go to the United States, I go to Texas.' "