Christian Living

ChurchWatch 09/26/07

Pope Benedict is Coming to America

Pope Benedict XVI

The visit is scheduled to take place from April 15th through the 20th, 2008. The official highlight will be a papal speech before the United Nations General Assembly in New York. This opportunity arose from the pontiff's invitation to the U.N. headquarters by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
While he is in New York City, the Pope is also scheduled to celebrate Mass at Central Park and give an address and prayers in St Patrick's Cathedral. Along with New York, the papal itinerary includes visits to Washington, D.C. and Boston.
Approximately 70 million Roman Catholics in the United States look to Benedict as their spiritual leader.

Rocco Palmo, author of the "Whispers in the Loggia" Blog, writes, "Touching down in Washington, where the professor-pontiff is said to be especially eager to see the campus of the Catholic University of America, Benedict will grant the trip's first hosting honors to another of his highly favored ones -- his most-prominent US appointee yet, Archbishop Donald Wuerl. Beyond the requisite meeting with President Bush at the White House and the other formalities of a head of state paying an official visit to the capital, a Mass on the National Mall is reportedly in the early plans."

"The most charged and significant of the stops, however, will be Boston, where -- to put it lightly -- the public attitude is still perceived as 'raw' following the local revelations of sexual abuse and cover-up that served to spark the most seismic crisis in the history of American Catholicism and forced the nation's senior churchman, Cardinal Bernard Law, into early retirement. As previously mused on these pages, and especially as accusations of Vatican negligence in dealing with the abuse scandals have spread from beyond US circles into the global church, the evocative venue provides Benedict with the unparalleled stage to address the situation in his most extensive and high-profile detail yet."

Boston will be the final stop on the tour, with Sunday Mass on Boston Common and lunch with the bishops of New England included on the schedule.
Palmo adds, "…as the plans stand, the visit shatters a long-standing protocol for papal trips to the US. From Paul VI's 1965 14-hour trip to New York and the UN straight through 'til the last visit (John Paul II's 1999 stopover in St Louis), the Popes and their advance teams made the conscious effort to keep the pontiff out of the States in the midst of a presidential election year."

"This time, with the primaries winding down and the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees likely emerging in the very midst of the papal presence, the usual scenario is conspicuously not the case."

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