"It is certainly exciting to have the Holy Father visit our area during his first visit to the country as pope," Archbishop John J. Myers said on hearing the plans of the pontiff's trip. "Even though there won't be time for a second papal visit to Newark on this trip, I know I speak for all Catholics in the archdiocese when I say that I am looking forward in the weeks to come to finding out more about this historic moment."
Archbishop Sambi said the pope will be in New York on April 18 to address the United Nations in the morning and attend an ecumenical meeting in the afternoon. The following day-the third anniversary of his election as pope-he will concelebrate Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in the morning and meet with youths and seminarians in the afternoon.
The pope will go to "ground zero" in lower Manhattan on the morning of April 20-the site of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Archbishop Sambi said the pope's stop at ground zero will be in "solidarity with those who have died and their families and all who wish for an end of violence and the implementation of peace." Later that day the pope will celebrate Mass at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, which will be the final event of his U.S. trip.
"Peter, the rock on which Jesus founded this Church, will be among us in the person of His successor-Benedict the XVI," Archbishop Sambi told the U.S. bishops. The official title of the upcoming papal trip is "Apostolic Visit to the United States of America and to the Seat of the United Nations."
The pope is slated to arrive in Washington on April 15 and will receive an official welcome at the White House April 16. That afternoon-his 81st birthday-he will address the U.S. bishops. The following day he will celebrate Mass at the new Washington Nationals major league baseball stadium. He then will meet with directors of Catholic universities and colleges and diocesan educational leaders at The Catholic University of America in Washington and then he is to attend an interreligious meeting at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center.
Pope John Paul II, who visited the United States seven times during his pontificate, traveled to Washington and New York in 1979 and revisited New York in 1995. During both visits to New York, he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. Pope Paul VI likewise addressed the United Nations in 1965.
Archbishop Sambi likened the pope's trip to the United States next year as "a sign that the spirit of the Lord is with its Church." He also said he hoped the visit would provide a "new spring" and "new Pentecost" for the Catholic Church in the United States.
He praised the U.S. bishops for "upholding the faith" and said the Church in the United States showed "an impressive unity" among the faithful and Church leaders. The archbishop also noted the visit would mark a celebration of the beginning of the U.S. Church and should demonstrate how the Church in this country will continue to grow by "making all things new in Christ."