Pope’s Visit is a “Blessing” for Archdiocese of Washington

November 12, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI’s first visit to the United States as pontiff will begin in Washington, DC on April 15, 2008, which is “a grace-filled blessing for the Church of Washington,” said Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl. The Holy Father will participate in a number of events during his visit to the nation’s capital, including a Mass for 45,000 people, before continuing on to New York City on April 18, and then the Vatican on April 20.

The Mass celebrated by the Pope – to be held at the new Nationals Park baseball stadium – will be the largest event during his Washington visit. The Mass is being organized by the Archdiocese of Washington. Free tickets will be distributed; details will be announced at a later date. (Please note: for past major events, tickets generally have been distributed through parishes and other entities.)

While in Washington, the Holy Father also is expected to visit the White House and to meet with the bishops of the United States, with interfaith leaders and with Catholic educators. In New York City, he will deliver a speech at the United Nations, the first time a pope has done so since 1995, and participate in several other pastoral events including a Mass at Yankee Stadium.

“It is with faith-filled joy and enormous enthusiasm that the Archdiocese of Washington welcomes the news that our beloved Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, will begin his first visit to the United States as Chief Shepherd of the Universal Church in our nation’s capital,” Archbishop Wuerl said. “Personally, and in the name of all of the clergy, religious and faithful of the archdiocese, I express our warmest welcome while renewing our sentiments of love and loyalty to our Holy Father. We all look forward to his visit as a time of renewal of our faith and pastoral ministry and an opportunity to confirm our solidarity with the Church universal made visible among us by the successor to Peter, Pope Benedict XVI.”

The only prior visit to Washington, DC by a pontiff was by Pope John Paul II on October 6-7, 1979. Pope John Paul II also visited nearby Baltimore, Maryland on October 8, 1995.

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Susan Gibbs
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