.- The spokesman for the Vatican, Fr. Fredrico Lombardi, announced yesterday that Pope Benedict XVI will make his first trip to the United States. Speaking on Italian state television, Fr. Lombardi said that the Pope plans to accept the invitation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to attend the General Assembly session in New York in September of 2008.
Other upcoming papal trips were also announced by the Vatican’s spokesman.
This September 7th-9th the Holy Father will travel to Vienna, Austria to deliver an “internationally important” speech to the diplomats accredited to the various international organizations headquartered in the Austrian capital.
The final voyage announced will be to the Marian shrine in Lourdes, France. Pope Benedict will travel to the shrine to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the appearance of the Blessed Mother to St. Bernadette Soubirous. The Lourdes pilgrimage will be of particular significance since it was the last place that the late Pope John Paul II visited before his death.
Pope Benedict also continues to focus on the upcoming World Youth Day which will be held in Sydney Australia. On Sunday, he told the youth of the world to begin their spiritual preparation now, so that they will be able to fully participate in the event when it arrives.