Papal trip to U.S. confirmed

By  Catholic News Service
  • November 13, 2007
{mosimage} BALTIMORE - Pope Benedict XVI will visit Washington and New York next April 15-20.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, confirmed the dates of the papal trip and announced the Pope's itinerary in remarks Nov. 12 at the beginning of the annual fall meeting of the U.S. bishops in Baltimore.

"Peter, the rock on which Jesus founded this church, will be among us in the person of his successor, Benedict the XVI," Sambi told the bishops.

According to the archbishop, the Pope will arrive in Washington April 15 and will receive an official welcome at the White House April 16. That afternoon, coincidentally his 81st birthday, he will address the U.S. bishops.

The following day he will celebrate Mass at the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium in Washington. Later that day he will meet with directors of Catholic universities and colleges and diocesan educational leaders at The Catholic University of America in Washington and then he is to attend an interreligious meeting at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Centre.

On April 18, the Pope will be in New York to address the United Nations in the morning and attend an ecumenical meeting in the afternoon. The following day, the third anniversary of his election as Pope, he will concelebrate Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in the morning and meet with youths and seminarians in the afternoon.

While in New York the Pope will visit ground zero on the morning of April 20. Ground zero is the site where the twin towers of the World Trade Centre stood before they were brought down by terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001.

Sambi said the Pope's visit to ground zero will be in "solidarity with those who have died and their families and all who wish for an end of violence and the implementation of peace."

In the afternoon, he will celebrate Mass at Yankee Stadium, which will be the final event of his U.S. trip.

Pope John Paul II, who visited the United States seven times during his pontificate, travelled to Washington and New York in 1979 and revisited New York in 1995. During both visits to New York, he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. Pope Paul VI likewise addressed the United Nations in 1965.

Sambi likened Pope Benedict's visit to the United States next year to "a sign that the spirit of the Lord is with its church"; he also said he hoped the visit would provide a "new spring" and "new Pentecost" for the Catholic Church in the United States. He praised the U.S. bishops for "upholding the faith" and said the church in the United States showed "an impressive unity" among the faithful and church leaders.

The archbishop also noted the visit would mark a celebration of the beginning of the U.S. church and should demonstrate how the church will continue to grow in the United States by "making all things new in Christ."

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