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Green Bay extends invitation to Pope Francis

GREEN BAY, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Pope Francis is considering a visit to the United States next year -- and Green Bay is among the places extending an invitation.

Mayor Jim Schmitt wrote the pontiff, encouraging him to visit a Marian shrine that the Catholic church officially recognized just over three years ago. Schmitt says he could also see the relatively-new pope delivering Mass to a full house of close to 80,000 at Lambeau Field.

With bigger cities expecting to court Francis, Schmitt calls a visit to Green Bay a long shot but quote, "I think you need to ask for things." Vatican sources have said the pope is likely to visit the U-S in 2015. He's expected to attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, an international event the Catholic Church holds every three years.

Green Bay's mayor wants Francis to see the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in the tiny town of Champion, about 15 miles northeast of the city. The church verified in 2010 that the Virgin Mary had appeared to a young girl at the shrine in 1859. The Marian shrine is the only site of its kind in the U-S that the Catholic Church officially recognizes.