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May 18, 2008     621 Words

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:

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.


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