Cincinnati, Ohio, Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - Cincinnati-Catholic Charities USA's 2007 National Volunteers of the Year -- a Tucson family of three generations of dentists -- were honored last week at an award ceremony during the organization's annual gathering in Cincinnati.
Sam Marascalco, DDS, his son-in-law Phil Mooberry, DDS, and grandson Nick Mooberry, DDS, volunteer at Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona's St. Elizabeth's Clinic. Known affectionately as St. E's, the clinic provides thousands of uninsured adults and children with low-cost dental care. Last year, St. E's volunteer dentists conducted 7,313 dental visits with patients, completing fillings, dentures, partials, cleanings, and emergency exams. Both Dr. Phil and Dr. Nick were on hand in Cincinnati to accept the award.
"With too many people in our country unable to get access to crucial health and dental care, these three remarkable dentists are using their special skills to provide an invaluable service to some of their most vulnerable neighbors," said Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA). "The Catholic Charities family is grateful for their dedication to their community and the Catholic Charities mission."
These three generations of dentists treat between 12 and 15 patients each month at the clinic. They also treat some of the more complex patients in their own offices. All patients of St. E's are accepted on a sliding fee scale or scholarship for dental care. Dr. Sam, Dr. Phil, and Dr. Nick's volunteer care helps keep the cost of care affordable and increases the clinic's ability to provide scholarships for the truly indigent.
In Tucson the need for affordable dental care is great, where there are three times as many people without dental than medical insurance. In addition, very few dentists or dental clinics in the community provide low-cost or sliding scale dental care like St. E's, which has a three-month waiting list for new dental patients. Most of the patients, especially the children, who come to St. E's have never been to a dentist before, or in
many of the adult cases, it has been between 10 and 20 years since their last visit. As a result, the patients' problems are very acute.
Seeing the need in the community to provide vital dental care to low-income families, Dr. Sam helped to found the clinic over 40 years ago and has been volunteering there ever since. About 20 years later, Dr. Phil married Dr.Sam's daughter and joined St. E's as a volunteer dentist. And just this past summer, Dr. Nick joined St. Elizabeth's volunteer team.
"Volunteering at St. E's is how this family gives back to the community. St. E's is part of 'their family' and they all believe that providing their dental skills is a unique way to help others in the community," said Nancy Johnson, executive director for St. Elizabeth's. "They are here consistently and always ready to help with a special project, advocacy efforts, a letter of support, etc."
Their work for the clinic does not stop at dental care. This family also provides the leadership for the St. E's annual golf tournament each May, which raises more than $60,000 each year for dental equipment and supplies. In addition, they work with various dental foundations and community groups to advocate for contributions. They also write letters of support and collaborate on clinic grants.
Dr. Sam, who has now retired from his dental practice, started the family tradition of recruiting other dentist and hygienists to volunteer at the St. E's. Today, as president of the clinic's dental advisory board, Dr. Phil has carried that on that tradition of recruiting volunteers and ensuring that the dental clinic continues its mission. Dr. Phil is now also working on mentoring his son, Dr. Nick, who he started volunteering last August after
graduation from dental school.
The trio was honored at Catholic Charities USA's Annual Gathering on Sept. 15 in Cincinnati, OH. Catholic Charities USA's National Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes the invaluable contributions volunteers make to the Catholic Charities network. Collectively, local Catholic Charities agencies rely on more than 263,000 volunteers each year to serve more than seven million people of all faiths and diverse needs.
"We are so pleased that Catholic Charities USA has selected Dr. Sam Marascalco and Drs. Phil and Nick Mooberry to be recognized with its National Volunteer of the Year Award," said Peg Harmon, CEO of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona. "CCS has been triply blessed by this family's involvement and commitment to St. Elizabeth's Clinic. We congratulate and thank them along with all of the volunteers who give so generously of themselves and make our work possible."
Seward, Neb., Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - There are 23 newcomers attending St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Nebraska.
Among them are 19 young men who are in priestly formation for the Diocese of Lincoln. The other four new men are studying for the priesthood on behalf of either the Diocese of Rockford (Illinois) or the
Diocese of Madison (Wisconsin).
Father John Folda, rector of St. Gregory the Great Seminary, said that while this is the largest group to enter St. Gregory the Great Seminary all at once, everything has gone smoothly in terms of course scheduling, housing, books and all the other particulars.
“God smiled upon us,” he laughed. “He knew He was going to give us a lot of men this year.”
“We’re very blessed by God,” agreed Father Robert Matya, vocations director.
The first-year seminarians moved in last month and experienced orientation over the weekend before starting classes. Since then, they’ve been getting to know each other and the seminary faculty, studying, and learning to adapt to a schedule that can be quite a bit different than what they were used to as students or workers.
“It’s very routine, very organized,” said Benjamin Tuma of North American Martyrs Parish in Lincoln. “The days are long, and we wake up early for morning prayer.”
Corey Harrison of St. Leo Parish in Palmyra agreed that the biggest challenge to the seminary lifestyle is “adjusting to wake up at 5:30 a.m. instead of sleeping until 8,” but he said it’s worth the trade.
“Spending time with a lot of guys who are just as excited about my faith as I am… I wouldn’t take it back for anything,” he stated.
Father Folda said that the seminarians “really do grow into a brotherly relationship.” The smaller size of the seminary makes that easier than it would be in a situation where there are hundreds of men.
“We do a lot of things together, so it’s easier to get to know everybody,” he explained. Father Matya noted that each man was called to discern a vocation to the priesthood in a different way.
“Their stories are all different,” he said. “Praying families first and foremost… Involvement in other things, such as the Catholic fraternity, FOCUS, Totus Tuus…”
Nine years as a SKY Camp counselor was the experience that Hastings native and St. Cecilia High School graduate Alex Driscoll cited. “It was time out of my schedule, becoming closer to God than I had ever felt, being surrounded by priests and sisters and kids all there for the same reason — to get closer to God,” he recalled. “Every year, I got a feeling that this is what I should do.”
Matthew Rawe of St. Teresa Parish in Lincoln realized his calling during Holy Thursday Eucharistic Adoration last April. As he prayed, he said, “I had a peace about going to seminary.”
Caleb LaRue, a graduate of Millard West High School in Omaha, said he began thinking about the priesthood as early as eighth grade, but, “I always envisioned seminarians and priests as guys who spend 19 hours a day in prayer and I didn’t think I was holy enough to consider it.”
While working at Lincoln’s Newman Center, however, he discovered that priests were “just regular guys God called to serve.”
Mark Heffley “grew up all over” and was a pre-med student at the University of Nebraska Lincoln who had the idea that he could be both a doctor and a priest. However, during his second year at UNL, his desire to study medicine “fell away,” and he elected to go transfer to St. Gregory the Great Seminary.
“I just loved it here so much, I decided to study for this diocese,” he added.
Sean Wilson of Gimli, Manitoba in Canada had originally intended to study for the Diocese of Winnipeg. However, various circumstances led him to enter the seminary for the Diocese of Lincoln instead.
“I ended up reading about the Bishop of Lincoln, and that made me curious,” he said. He came to visit St. Gregory the Great and was impressed with the friendly and faith-filled atmosphere.
Ricardo Izquierdno woke up to his calling just recently. Born in Columbia, he and his family moved to Lincoln around five years ago. He intended to become an architect after graduation from Pius X High School last June, but then, “I thought about that line in the Bible that it doesn’t matter if you win the world if you lose your soul.”
He woke up one morning realizing that anything he accomplished as an architect would have little impact in an eternal sense. “I felt I wanted more, to do something for God for all eternity.”
Now, he’s happy to join the other seminarians as they spend their days in prayer, worship, studying, recreation, and more prayer. This formation process helps each man fully understand their vocational calling. Some may not complete seminary. However, their time at St. Gregory the Great will always be valuable.
“They’ll grow deeper in their spiritual lives and in their relationship with Christ by entering this period of discernment,” explained Father Matya. “That’s helpful for anyone.”
Already, the seminarians are recognizing how beneficial the structured prayer life of seminary is for them. Shawn Koranda of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Wahoo said the best thing he can gain from seminary is establishing “a strong prayer life, so whether or not this is my vocation, I’ll be able to take that with me.”
Both Father Folda and Father Matya encourage everyone to pray diligently for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
“There are lots of young men and women who are trying to discern what God wants them to do in their lives and that’s not always easy to figure out,” said Father Matya.
In the meantime, this class of new seminarians has given themselves fully to the discernment process.
“They’re right in there and full of questions, obviously prayerful and eager to learn,” Father Folda reported. “They’re going to be a great group of seminarians, I have no doubt.”
London, England, Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - The row between Amnesty International (AI) and the Church over the group’s newly declared support for limited abortion is continuing to escalate as the bishops of Ireland contemplate banning the organization from the nation’s Catholic schools. Already one school has been instructed to disband their chapter of Amnesty and more may follow suit.
A church spokesman provided more details on the latest Amnesty eviction, "An inquiry did come from a school principal, on behalf of the teacher who is in charge of the school Amnesty group, asking for guidance on the future of the Amnesty group in the school. The advice to the school is that it would be inappropriate for the school branch to continue in existence in the context of Amnesty International's new position regarding abortion," reported The Guardian.
The decision to close down the AI chapter at the Greater Belfast school may be a sign of things to come. The Irish Bishops’ Conference will hold their general conference next month and among the topics to be discussed will be the import of Amnesty’s new policy in light of “the sacredness and protection of all human life”, said the church spokesman.
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty's Northern Ireland programme director, said he was still "hopeful" that the Amnesty school groups would not be affected by the growing rift with the Catholic Church. "Amnesty International and the Catholic Church have more in common than that which divides us, namely the issue of sexual and reproductive rights."
As previously reported by CNA, Amnesty International has remained unmoved by the widespread condemnation from all parts of the Catholic world.
The most recent condemnation came yesterday when the head of the Italian Bishop’s Conference Angelo Bagnasco said that the new pro-abortion policy was an “astounding inclusion, among recognized human rights, of the choice of abortion, even though only in the case of violence against women." He also slammed the human rights group saying, "These are departures that warn us further of the dangerous erosion afflicting human conscience".
Other notable prelates who have criticized the AI for its pro-abortion decision are Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the head of the Church in Scotland; Bishop Michael Evans, a founding member of the group; and Archbishop Philip Wilson, the head of the Australian Bishops’ Conference.
Harare, Zimbabwe, Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - It is still unclear to the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference as to why Pius Ncube stepped down as archbishop of the Bulawayo diocese.
The ZCBC secretary general, Rev. Frederick Chiromba announced that, “we can only assume that he felt that those allegations he is facing may compromise his pastoral duties, and probably wanted to give himself time to deal with those issues, outside the church,” reported Ecumenical News International.
Archbishop Ncube came under fire in July when a court case was filed against him alleging that he had been committing adultery over a two year period with one of his parish secretaries, Mrs. Rosemary Sibanda. The court case, filed by the Mr. Onesimus Sibanda the husband of Rosemary is seeking 20 billion Zimbabwean dollars ($160,000) in damages.
After announcing his resignation on September 11th, the Vatican press office released a letter written by the archbishop in which he wrote that he offered his resignation to Vatican officials in July to prevent the Church’s image from being tarnished. "In order to spare my fellow bishops and the body of the Church any further attacks, I decided this was the best course of action," he wrote.
Ecumenical News International reported that Ncube stated, "I remain a Catholic bishop in Zimbabwe, and will continue to speak out on the issues that sadly become more acute by the day."
Before the Archbishop Ncube’s resignation the other nine Catholic bishops of Zimbabwe came to his defense saying that the accusations against Ncube were "outrageous and utterly deplorable" and "an assault on the Catholic Church".
Aurora, Ill., Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle ruled on Wednesday that Planned Parenthood cannot open a newly constructed abortion clinic in Aurora, Illinois until he reaches a decision about allegations that the abortion provider’s developer lied on applications for a building permit. Judge Norgle wants attorneys for both Planned Parenthood and the city of Aurora to come back on Thursday and present more information.
The city of Aurora has brought a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood because their developer, Gemini Office Development obtained a building permit for the new abortion clinic under the pretense that it was an office building and falsely listed a building operator that was not Planned Parenthood.
The truth about the purpose of the building came to light when a pro-life construction worker on the 22,000-square-foot site became suspicious of the bulletproof glass and surgical suites.
On the weekend of August 27-28, pro-life advocates assembled over 1,000 people to protest the clandestine abortion facility’s construction. For more on this story click here. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=10308
Since then, the city of Aurora has hired an outside attorney to investigate and has said that it will not issue a permanent occupancy permit until the probe has been completed. Planned Parenthood subsequently took the city to court asking Judge Norgle to allow it to open today.
At an hourlong hearing on Monday, Norgle refused to grant Planned Parenthood's request for an injunction to prevent city officials from closing it down should it try to open its doors.
Norgle mention that if the city completes its probe and allows Planned Parenthood to open that it can begin doing abortions.
After Monday’s hearing, Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League announced that, "Planned Parenthood will NOT be opening their doors tomorrow," and that “this is exactly what we've been praying for these past 40 days."
The pro-life activist also said, “We trust that the judge will allow Aurora to fully investigate how Planned Parenthood tried to come into town without disclosing who they were and their plans to perform abortions. Planned Parenthood had 13 appointments scheduled for Tuesday's opening. If God's answer spared 13 innocent lives, then we give the Lord the praise for the delay and the ultimate permanent closing of this abortion mill."
The next hearing into the matter has been set for Thursday morning.
Washington D.C., Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - President George W. Bush has promised to veto an amendment that overturned the Mexico City Policy.
Last Thursday, 16 of the 25 Catholics in the U. S. Senate voted to overturn the "Mexico City Policy" and allow funding to overseas health clinics providing abortions. The amendment passed by a margin of 53-41.
One of the 16 was Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), who defeated Sen. Rick Santorum as a pro-life candidate.
“It's doubtful whether Casey, son of the legendary pro-life Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey, will ever be able to convince voters of his pro-life label again,” writes Deal Hudson in his Sept. 17 edition of The Window.
Lifesitenews.com has reported that Casey declared himself opposed to public funding of abortion in the Voter Guide before the 2006 elections. He also indicated during the 2006 campaign that he "supports legal protection for human life from conception."
“This is sad news for the Democratic Party and the Church,” continues Hudson. “Bob Casey, Jr. had the opportunity to be the Catholic pro-life leader in a political party that desperately needs one.”
Hudson notes that Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia and chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, urged the Senators to preserve both the Mexico City and Kemp-Kasten policies and vote against the amendment.
The U.S. Catholic bishops expressed disappointment at the passage of the bill, for which 16 Catholic Senators voted in favor.
They include: Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Ted Kennedy (D-MA), John Kerry (D-MA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Christopher Dodd (CT-D), Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
Moscow, Russia, Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - Russian Patriarch Alexei II has again insisted that a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI would be possible after adequate preparation and after the Holy See fulfills the demands of the Patriarchate to decrease Catholic missionary work, which he termed “proselytism,” in Russia and Eastern Europe.
According to the Intefax news agency, Alexei II said Catholic religious and clergy still maintain “a goal of proselytism among the Orthodox population” in Russia despite denials by Catholic leaders. The Patriarch said before a meeting with the Pope could take place, “these difficulties we have faced since the 90s must be overcome.”
Since the fall of the Soviet regime, the Patriarchate of Moscow has often complained about the work of Catholic missionaries in the lands of the former Soviet Union. In response Catholic leaders have pointed out that the goal is not to convert the Orthodox but to reach out to the majority of Russians who do not attend church. The Moscow Patriarchate claims that all Russians are orthodox, even if they do not attend any church. Alexei II said he rejected the idea that “Russia is mission lands for the Catholic Church.”
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo is calling on lawmakers to “be consistent” in how they deal with abortion and to disassociate themselves from alleged international blackmail to legalize the practice in the Dominican Republic.
In statements to reporters, the cardinal mentioned lawmakers who have publicly rejected having received payments from overseas to promote abortion. “I congratulate those who have not taken them, and I hope they act consistently,” he said.
Cardinal Rodriguez also referred to the violence that has swept Dominican society, and that his leaders need to address the root problems, which lie “in the family, in poverty and the lack of work—all of this generates violence, but for me the fundamental cause is poverty, which many people debate has not been sufficiently addressed.”
Presidential candidate Amable Aristy Castro of the Christian Social Reformist Party expressed support of Cardinal Rodriguez’s criticism of the pressure on lawmakers to approve abortion.
Castro denounced President Leonel Fernandez and the Dominican Liberation Party as responsible for keeping the abortion debate alive. “Modernity and progress must not be symbolized by homicide, killing, the death penalty, which is what abortion is for the unborn,” he said.
London, England, Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - A priest has been dragged into the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Detectives are expected to put pressure on Fr. Jose Pacheco to break his vow of silence, which is paramount to the sacrament of confession.
According to The Daily Mail, police are to question the priest to see if Kate McCann, 39, confessed to him she had killed her four-year-old daughter. But priests are bound by an oath never to reveal penitents’ confessions.
The police have reportedly already spoken to the Portuguese priest informally about the relationship he developed with the McCanns in the days after their daughter was reported missing.
According to The Daily Mail, Fr. Pacheco met the McCanns the day after Madeleine vanished from their holiday apartment on May 3. The couple subsequently attended daily Mass at his church. Fr. Pacheco even gave them the keys to the tiny chapel so they could pray round the clock.
But when the finger of suspicion was pointed at the McCanns and they left for Britain last week, they did not say goodbye and handed the church keys to an Anglican priest.
The church has become a focal point of the inquiry since sniffer dogs followed a trail there from the apartment where Madeleine vanished.
Officers have asked for permission to search the church. They allege Kate accidentally killed Madeleine with an overdose of sedatives to help her sleep. They claim she and husband Gerry, 39, might have hidden the body close by shortly after she died.
The McCanns strongly deny all the allegations. The new spokesman for the McCann’s, Clarence Mitchell, said he spent nearly a month with the McCanns for up to 14 hours a day when he was representing the Foreign Office over the case. He told reporters that, “[d]uring that time, I saw or heard nothing that gave me cause for concern or any suspicion.”
Bogotá, Colombia, Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - The secretary general of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Fabian Marulanda Lopez said this week the proposal by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to mediate in Colombia’s civil conflict “thorny and difficult.” Chavez has suggested Colombian President Alvaro Uribe demilitarize a portion of the area of Caguan-Caqueta in the Amazon in order to meet with the leader of the FARC, Manuel Marulanda Velez.
Bishop Lopez called Chavez’s suggestion “contrary to the policies of the government,” which has been very clear in refusing to demilitarize any part of the country for discussions about the release of hostages. “If there is a desire to help Colombia, these kinds of meetings could take place outside the country,” Bishop Lopez said.
Referring to Chavez’s comments that President Nicolas Sarkozy of France would also be involved in his proposal, Bishop Lopez responded that the French president has only appeared interested “in rescuing Ingrid Betancourt, but I don’t see him committed to definitively combating kidnapping and to advocating for the release of all of the kidnapped in Colombia.”
Bishop Marulanda said the Church would continue to be willing to help achieve a humanitarian agreement but without taking a lead role.
Syracuse, N.Y., Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - A new national survey indicates that while most Australians believe women should have access to abortion, most Australians are conflicted because they also have pro-life convictions.
The findings come from privately funded studies conducted between 2004 and 2006 by the Sexton Marketing Group. They are published in a new book, Common Ground: Seeking an Australian consensus on abortion and sex education, reports The Australian.
The book argues that Australians are both pro-choice and pro-life. For example, one survey, conducted across a sample of 1,200 people, found that although 83 percent supported a woman's right to choose an abortion, 88 percent agreed it would be good to reduce the current rate.
Sixty-two per cent said women should consult a counseling service to ensure they were aware of the alternatives to abortion, but there was consensus that counseling should be non-directive.
The two-year study, conducted in different regions of the country, indicates that 74 percent of respondents believe women seeking abortions should undergo a compulsory period of reflection.
Furthermore, more than half of respondents thought doctors should show the stage of fetal development to patients using models, pictures or ultrasound before a decision is made.
The survey also shows there is confusion about emergency contraception. The study showed that 59 percent either thought RU486 was the same as the morning-after pill or didn't know if it was.
The majority of respondents — 95 percent — wanted sex education in the curriculum.
Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - A new bishop will be ordained for Beijing this week, but the bishop-elect has not yet received the approval of Pope Benedict XVI.
China’s 59-member Conference of Bishops approved Fr. Joseph Li Shan on Aug. 28 and an ordination ceremony will be held Friday, said Liu Bainian, vice chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
Fr. Li succeeds Bishop Fu Tieshan of Beijing, who died in April. Bishop Fu was chairman of the Patriotic Association and became acting chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China in 2005. He also served on an advisory body to China's legislature, the National People's Congress.
The AP reported that Liu said there had been no contact between China and the Vatican about Fr. Li's appointment "because the two sides have no diplomatic relations."
Fr. Li’s nomination comes just two months after Pope Benedict XVI issued a letter to Chinese Catholics, which underlined the problem of episcopal appointments and regarded the Chinese bishops’ conference as invalid.
However, there has been increasing consultation between Chinese officials and Rome on such appointments, with many bishops named by China later seeking and receiving papal approval.
In July, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, called Fr. Li a "very good, well-suited" candidate. He said then that the Vatican had not been officially informed about Li's appointment but hoped Beijing would seek approval from the Holy See.
Lima, Peru, Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima celebrated a special Mass last Saturday in the city of Pisco, located near the epicenter of the August 15 earthquake, to pray for the victims of the recent tragedy.
Before the start of the Mass, which took place outside the completely destroyed parish of St. Clement, the names of all those who perished in the earthquake were read aloud. In his homily, Cardinal Cipriani called on local residents to rebuild their city in a spirit of hope and optimism. “In the last days and weeks suffering has been on the minds of all. But I must tell you: Courage! Lift your spirits! Fix your gaze on Christ! We are not going to remain broken! We are not going to be sad forever!” the cardinal stated.
Cardinal Cipriani compared the Gospel passage of Lazarus being raised from the dead to the experiences of those whose cities have been devastated. “After this situation, Jesus resurrects Lazarus. Brothers and sisters, we are in that phase. We must resurrect peace, faith and hope, and be convinced that after this suffering will come peace, progress and development, but most of all that interior peace will come,” he said.
“The heart understands that next to pain and death, the message of Christ is resurrection, peace and joy. Don’t let anyone take that faith from our hearts!” he added.
At the conclusion of the cardinal’s homily, the faithful lit thousands of candles to remember deceased family members and loved ones and to pray for them.
An emotional moment came at the sign of peace, which took place at exactly 6:40 p.m., the same time the earthquake struck on August 15.
Vatican City, Sep 18, 2007 (CNA) - Reuters in Italian is reporting further developments on Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States this coming spring.
As CNA reported yesterday, its Vatican sources say that the Pontiff will visit New York and other cities in the US, although the Pope's itinerary is not yet official. The centerpiece of the trip will be a speech delivered at the United Nations, at the invitation of the UN's Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon.
According to Reuters, the US visit could take place either at the end of April or the beginning of May and last five to six days.
Other than New York, the Pope may visit other cities: probable, although not yet confirmed, are Washington DC, Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia, reports Reuters.
The Pope will also be making trips to France and Australia for World Youth Day in 2008.