Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., has announced that Pope Benedict will be making his first visit to the United States April 15-20. The plans for the five day voyage will include an address at the United Nations in New York and a stop in Washington D.C.
The Pope’s itinerary will begin with an April 16 meeting with President George W. Bush at the White House, followed by a gathering with the U.S. bishops at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
On Thursday, April 17, the American public will have its first chance to see Benedict XVI at a Mass to be held at the new Washington Nationals stadium. Later in the day the Pope will also take place in an inter-religious event at the John Paul II Cultural Center.
The New York leg of the papal visit will begin with a historic address to the UN on Friday.
Cardinal Edward Egan of New York expressed the delight of Catholics in New York upon learning that Pope Benedict will be coming to visit. “When our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, told me last July that he would be visiting…I was delighted with the news and shared it with the People of God of the Archdiocese of New York…The response of all was both rejoicing and thanksgiving to the Lord for the great grace of the presence of the successor of St. Peter in our midst.”
One group that is close to the heart of Pope Benedict is young people. The Holy Father has made sure that time is set aside for them by scheduling a meeting with them at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers on Saturday.
The Holy Father will conclude his visit with two very significant stops. In what is sure to be a moving moment, he will pay his respects at Ground Zero and then say farewell to the American Church with a Mass celebrated in Yankee Stadium.