Catholic World News News Feature
Papal visit to US set September 19, 2007
Pope Benedict XVI will visit the US in April 2008, for a major address at UN headquarters in New York.
Although rumors about a papal visit have circulated in the US media for the past week, the Vatican has not yet confirmed the trip. However informed sources have told CWN that plans are quickly taking shape for a spring trip to eastern US.
In April of this year the Pope accepted an invitation from UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to address the international body. No date has been set for the Pope's appearance there, but the director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, has indicated that the trip would probably take place in 2008. Numerous published reports have now indicated that the Pope will speak to the UN around the middle of next April.
Specific plans for the papal visit are not yet fixed, informed sources stress. However, organizers are considering visits to Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston, as well as New York.
In April, Catholic Americans will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the establishment of dioceses in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia: three of the cities on the list of the Pope's possible stops. (A fourth new American diocese was created in April 1807 in Bardstown, Kentucky: what is now the Archdiocese of Louisville.) Baltimore, another possible stop on the Pope's tour, was raised to the level of a metropolitan archdiocese on the same date in 1808.
In Boston, Cardinal Sean O'Malley has asked the Pope to visit in an effort to heal the wounds of the sex-abuse scandal that reached a crescendo there 5 years ago. The Holy Father has reportedly indicated a desire to visit the Catholic University of America, located in Washington. There are also reports that he would plan a meeting there with President George W. Bush.
Pope Benedict is also reportedly weighing another trip to North America in June 2008, to participate in the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec. Vatican organizers chose not to try to combine the Pope's appearances into a single trip, sources say, because the Pontiff preferred not to be in the US at the height of the 2008 presidential campaign.