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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Approximately 25,000 young people and seminarians from around the United States participated in a youth rally with Pope Benedict XVI on the grounds of Saint Joseph Seminary in Yonkers, New York.

The youth rally was preceded by a concert featuring local choirs as well as such nationally known performers as Kelly Clarkson, Third Day, Salvador, Toby Mac, Three Graces, Father Joseph Espaillat, Father Stan Fortuna, Fragile Tomorrow, and Full Armor.

Following his meeting with young persons with disabilities in the seminary chapel, the Holy Father traveled to the rally stage by Popemobile.

The Holy Father personally greeted the seminarians, religious men and women, and others standing in the front row. Cardinal Egan welcomed the Holy Father and Pope Benedict gave him a chasuble as a remembramce of the visit.

Some youth representatives presented him with gifts of bread representing the cultural diversity of those present. Other young people then presented Pope Benedict with gifts in honor of his birthday and the anniversary of his election. These gifts included a spiritual bouquet, a book entitled Empire State Catholics: A History of the Catholic Community in New York State, and images of six holy individuals who lived or served in New York: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini, Saint John Neumann, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Venerable Pierre Toussaint, and Padre Felix Varela. Those gathered sang “Happy Birthday” in German as well as other songs.

The Holy Father gave a brief address. He spoke of the importance of Christian witness, reminding the young people of the examples of the persons whose portraits he has received. Though very different, each of their lives was a journey of hope. The Holy Father spoke movingly of the challenges faced in the Germany of his youth. He thanked God that young people today can grow up in freedom. Still, there is darkness in our world today: dreams are shattered and people are treated as objects; truth is manipulated and the perception of reality is distorted.

Pope Benedict encouraged the young people to follow the path of truth and freedom that leads to happiness. He invited the young people to follow the example of the saints and to devote themselves to personal prayer and silence, liturgical prayer, charity in action, and vocations. The Holy Father addressed special words to the seminarians and to the religious men and women present.

Pope Benedict then gave a brief summary of his address in Spanish.

Following the address, all sang a Litany of the Saints and the Lord’s Prayer. Cardinal Egan presented fifteen young people to the Holy Father. Pope Benedict blessed all those assembled.

Kelly Clarkson sang the “Ave Maria.” The Holy Father then left the rally field in the Popemobile.

The text of the Holy Father’s address is available here.

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Pope Benedict Greets the UN Staff

Following his address to the General Assembly of the United Nations, Pope Benedict XVI met with several officials of the United Nations and visited the Meditation Room in the United Nations headquarters.

Later, Pope Benedict extended his greetings to the staff of the United Nations Organization. He compared the United Nations with the Holy See in that both are contained in small geographic areas yet have impact around the world.

The Holy Father expressed his gratitude for the important work done by this staff. He remembered especially those who died in the field. The staff of the United Nations is a microcosm of the world, each person making an indispensable contribution to the good of the human family by monitoring governments’ fulfillment of their responsibility to protect their citizens.

Pope Benedict closed his remarks by offering his prayers for the staff and their families as they continue to serve the human family.

The complete text of the Holy Father’s greetings are here.

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Pope Benedict XVI addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization at the organization’s headquarters in New York. Pope Benedict is the third Pope to address the United Nations, following Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. (Pope John Paul II addressed the United Nations twice, in 1979 and in 1995.)

Upon arriving at the United Nations, Pope Benedict XVI was welcomed by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, and the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Srgjan Kerim. Before addressing the General Assembly, Pope Benedict met privately with the Secretary-General.

The Holy Father began his address in French before switching to English. He noted that the founding principles of the United Nations – the desire for peace, a sense of justice, respect for the dignity of the human person, and cooperation and humanitarian assistance — are just aspirations of the human spirit. The Holy See shares an interest in these principles.

Questions of security, development, reducing inequality, and care of the environment require collective action in good faith for the common good. While scientific and technological advances can be of great help, some can rob the human person and the family of their identity. He called on the international community to act with juridical means when needed to safeguard human rights.

The Holy Father spoke of the critical importance of protecting human rights, noting the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Promoting human rights is the most effective strategy for reducing inequality and increasing security. Human rights are not simply a matter of law, but of justice, based in the natural law written on the human heart.

Once again, the Holy Father spoke of the importance of dialogue between religions as a way of building consensus in service of the common good. He emphasized the importance of freedom of religion in its public as well as its private dimension.

Pope Benedict said that the Catholic Church wishes to offer her proper contribution to international relations, making available her centuries of experience. He concluded his address by greeting the assembly in all the official languages of the United Nations, wishing them peace and prosperity with God’s help.

The assembly responded to his address with a standing ovation..

The complete text of the Holy Father’s address is here.

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Pope Benedict XVI left Washington, D.C. this morning aboard Shepherd One. A small delegation, including Archbishop Wuerl and D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty were at Andrews Air Force Base to see him off.

The flight left at approximately 8:45 a.m. EDT for the short flight to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

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Pope Benedict XVI addressed the presidents of Catholic colleges and universities as well as diocesan education officials this evening at the Catholic University of America (CUA). Upon arriving at the Edward J. Pryzbla University Center, he was greeted by Archbishop Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, Bishop William E. Lori, Bishop of Bridgeport and chairman of the CUA Board of Trustees, and Father David O’Connell, CM, the President of CUA. Thousands of CUA students, faculty, and staff, as well as other faithful, gathered outside to welcome the Holy Father with loud cheers. The Holy Father smiled and waved to the crowds.

While waiting for the Holy Father, the educators heard several musical selections from CUA students.

In his address to the educators, Pope Benedict stressed the importance of education in spreading the Gospel. Every Catholic educational institution should be a place for encountering the living Jesus Christ. This encounter should lead to lives of Christian witness. God’s revelation points toward truth and the power of God’s truth should permeate Catholic educational institutions.

The Holy Father spoke warmly of the history of Catholic education in the United States and emphasized that the sustainability of Catholic educational institutions must be assured and that these institutions must remain accessible to people of all social and economic strata.

Pope Benedict then addressed the particular benefit that Catholic education brings to the Church and to society. Catholic universities and schools help to build a communal identity, founded in the truth revealed by Christ and finding expression in liturgy, prayer, and acts of charity and justice. While Catholic schools have engaged the intellect, they must also engage the will, inflaming the desire for true freedom which has its origin and end in God. Educational institutions must be imbued with the ecclesial life of faith.

Catholic universities and schools help to fulfill the Church’s mission to speak the truth, including in the public forum. Recognizing that faith and reason can never be at odds, speaking the truth can help to bring about consensus while never abandoning categories of right and wrong.

Truth means more than knowledge. It leads to the good and to a life-changing response. Leading young people to truth is an act of love.

Pope Benedict thanked the educators for their professionalism, dedication, and generosity. He reaffirmed the principle of academic freedom, but noted that it cannot be used to justify teaching that contradicts the faith of the Church. Inside and outside the classroom, Catholic educational institutions must provide formation in Catholic doctrine and practice.

The Holy Father offered special encouragement to teachers of catechesis and encouraged religious orders not to abandon their commitment to schools, especially in poorer areas.

Pope Benedict closed his talk with words of inspiration: “Bear witness to hope. Nourish your witness with prayer. Account for the hope that characterizes your lives (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) by living the truth which you propose to your students. Help them to know and love the One you have encountered, whose truth and goodness you have experienced with joy.”

The educators greeted the Holy Father’s address with a standing ovation.

The complete text of the Holy Father’s address is available here.

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Shepherd One, the Holy Father’s plane, landed at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland shortly before 4:00 p.m. EDT today (April 15). The cockpit of the plane was decorated with U.S. and papal flags waving in a strong breeze. The Holy Father disembarked with a huge smile and waves about ten minutes after the hour.

The Holy Father was met by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush and Church dignitaries, including the President and Vice President of the USCCB, the Apostolic Nuncio, and the Archbishops of Washington and of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. A colorguard representing each of the military services welcomed the Holy Father. President and Mrs. Bush were accompanied by their daughter, Jenna.

The Holy Father exchanged greetings with the welcoming party, but no public statements were made. The Holy Father then traveled by motorcade to the residence of the Apostolic Nuncio where he will spend the night.

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If you are attending one of the papal visit events, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Read any instructions received with your ticket very carefully and follow them exactly.
  • Make sure you have government-issued photo identification with you.
  • Allow extra time to get from place to place and bring plenty of patience.
  • If you are attending the Mass at Nationals Park or the Mass at Yankee Stadium, gather the religious articles that you would like to have blessed by the Holy Father.
  • Prepare for your journey with prayer and reflection.
  • After the visit, share your experience with people in your parish and diocese.  You can also share your experience in the comments on this blog.

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