Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pope Benedict's US Visit Begins April 15

Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to travel to the U.S. for the first time since he was elected pontiff in 2005. The trip begins in Washington on April 15, 2008 when he will be greeted by President George Bush & Speaker Nancy Pelosi at Andrews Air Force Base 4 pm EST, and will end in New York on April 20 where he will address the United Nations General Assembly.

The following are highlights of his key public events:

Tuesday, April 15:

_ Arrives at Andrews Air Force Base and greeted by President Bush and wife Laura.


Wednesday, April 16 in Washington: (Pope's Birthday)

_ Meets President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, White House

_ Prayer service with U.S. bishops, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception


Thursday, April 17 in Washington:

_ Celebrates Mass at Nationals Park

_ Addresses presidents of Catholic colleges and universities

_ Meets with representatives of other faiths


Friday, April 18 in New York:

_ Speaks at the United Nations

_ Brief visit to synagogue near the U.N.

_ Ecumenical prayer service at historically German parish


Saturday, April 19 in New York:

_ Mass for Catholic clergy at St. Patrick's Cathedral

_ Meets with seminarians, young Catholics

Sunday, April 20 in New York:

_ Visits ground zero, site of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center

_ Mass at Yankee Stadium

Upon arrival, the Pope was ushered into a motorcade to the Vatican Embassy in Washington D.C. Pope Benedict will also be celebrating his 81st Birthday on Wednesday but he will not attend the White House Birthday Celebration in his honor. Instead, he will be attending a prayer service with other bishops in a Washington Basilica.

Benedict, then-Cardinal Joseph Alois Ratzinger before becoming Pope in 2005, was head of the Vatican agency that encourages adherence to Catholic doctrine. He was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and stamped his "imprimi potest" (it can be printed) to the written book entitled "Catechism of the Catholic Church", a collection of theological reasoning on the Catholic Faith published by 'Libreria Editrice Vaticana' for the Catholic faithful in the U.S.

Pope Benedict is known to urge believers to return to fundamental Christian values in response to increasing de-Christianisation and secularisation throughout the post modern world. He was theological consultant at the Second Vatican Council to the late Pope Paul VI. Pope Benedict is also open to dialogue with other religious groups, and has sought to improve relations with them throughout his pontificate.

The United States is home to 65 million Roman Catholics. Pope Benedict XVI is expected to engage in world issues including world peace, the threat of terrorism, the issue of abortion, as well as apologize for the sex scandal that has plagued the U.S. Catholic Church. However, he has expressed that he wants to give "moral guidance" to Roman Catholics located in the United States, a pilgrimage he described as a journey to meet a "great people and a great church."

Compiled by Jay Fermin

Video courtesy of Christian Broadcasting Network CBN