Official program for Pope's U.S. visit released

.- With less than a month to go before Pope Benedict makes his first trip to the U.S., the Vatican’s Press Office has published the itinerary for his visit.

The Holy Father’s trip will take place April 15-21.

The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at midday on Tuesday, April 15 and land at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington at 4 p.m. local time, where he will be greeted by U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife.

The welcome ceremony will be held at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday April 16, after which the Pope will make a courtesy visit to the U.S. president at the White House. That afternoon he will preside at the celebration of Vespers and hold a meeting with U.S. bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 17 in the Nationals Stadium in Washington. At 5 p.m. on the same day he will participate in a meeting with representatives from Catholic universities at the Catholic University of America, also in Washington, then meet with representatives of other religions in the city's Pope John Paul II Cultural Center.

On the morning of Friday April 18, the Holy Father will travel from Washington to New York where, at 10.45 a.m., he is scheduled to address the General Assembly of the United Nations. That evening he is due to participate in an ecumenical meeting at the church of St. Joseph in New York.

At 9.15 a.m. on Saturday, April 19, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass with priests and religious in St. Patrick's Cathedral. He will then lunch with bishops of the archdiocese of New York and, at 4.30 p.m., preside at a meeting with young people and seminarians at the seminary of St. Joseph.

On Sunday April 20, Benedict XVI is to visit "Ground zero" where he will pray for the victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001. At 2.30 p.m. he will celebrate Mass at New York's Yankee Stadium.

The departure ceremony will be held at 8 p.m. on the same day, at New York's John Fitzgerald Kennedy international airport. The papal plane is due to land at the Roman airport of Ciampino at 10.45 a.m. local time on Monday April 21.

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