The Pope Brings Hope to American Catholics
CINCINNATI—When Pope Benedict XVI stepped off the plane at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland
for the first stop of his visit to the United States (April 15-20), he was met with a crowd that included
exuberant teenagers and awestruck adults with tears in their eyes. This reaction may seem unusual for
the man once called “God’s rottweiler,” but the pope has exceeded expectations since
his papacy began in 2005. And though his visit has come and gone, many Americans are still reeling
from all that the pope accomplished while he was here.
Pope Benedict’s visit to the United States is featured in a special section in the June issue of St. Anthony Messenger.
Assistant Editor Susan Hines-Brigger covered the pope’s visit to Washington, D.C., in her article, “America,
Meet Pope Benedict XVI.” Assistant Editor John Feister focused on his trip to the Big Apple
in “Actions Speak Louder Than Words: The Pope in New York.” After May 27, both articles
will be posted at: AmericanCatholic.org.
Pope Benedict, on the morning of his 81st birthday, visited the White House for the official welcoming
ceremony. President George W. Bush told him, “You will find in America people whose hearts are
open to your message of hope. And America and the world need this message.”
The pope then traveled to Washington’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
where he addressed the U.S. bishops on many issues, especially the clergy sex-abuse crisis. He cited
this in several other talks and met privately with five survivors from the Boston area.
The pope reiterated that the situation was “sometimes very badly handled.” He then added, “It
is vitally important that the vulnerable always be shielded from those who would cause harm.”
The following morning, he celebrated Mass at the new Nationals Park in front of an excited crowd of
46,000. He ended the Mass by saying, “Those who have hope must live different lives!”
“I don't think Americans have given the pope much of a chance from the get-go,” Hines-Brigger
writes. “I think that if this visit has done anything, it has introduced Pope Benedict to the
United States—and us to him.”
The pope’s itinerary in New York was daunting: He addressed the United Nations where he spoke
of the need for global solidarity, environmentalism and the need to harmonize ethics closely with scientific
research, especially in the area of reproduction.
The pope also led a Mass for clergy and religious at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and again at Yankee
Stadium. In addition to commending the vitality of the Church in the United States, he touched on themes
such as democracy. He met with Jewish leaders at Park East Synagogue, the first-ever visit of a pope
to a U.S. synagogue.
But one of the more moving events was his visit to Ground Zero where he prayed and received, one by
one, survivors and family members of 9/11 victims. The pope exchanged comments with these women and
men, clasping the hands of each one, listening.
Msgr. Hugh McManus, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Scarsdale, New York, and an adjunct seminary
professor at St. Joseph’s Seminary, said this of the pope and his ecumenical spirit: “He
is reaching out to these people whom you wouldn’t expect him to reach out to. He’s not
a rock star, like John Paul, but he’s likable. I think you’re going to find that he surprised
the daylights out of everyone!”
Permission is granted to reprint this release.
The third article posted will be “Five Favorite Hideaways of St. Anthony,” by
Senior Editor Father Jack Wintz, O.F.M.