Signs of hope across borders

Pope Benedict XVI. wants to take the message of Christian hope to people of different language, race, culture and social stratification with his upcoming trip to the U.S. "The world needs hope more than ever: hope for peace, for justice, for freedom," the church leader stressed in a televised message to U.S. citizens broadcast Tuesday at the Vatican. But this hope can only be achieved by respecting God's commandments, especially love of neighbor, the pope stressed. Benedict XVI. Holds off 15. to 20. April in the USA.

Highlights of his eighth trip abroad include a speech to the UN General Assembly, a meeting with President George W. Bush as well as a visit to Ground Zero in New York. He also sees his visit to the U.S. as a sign of solidarity with other religions, the pope stressed in his message read in English. "I hope that my presence with you will be understood as a fraternal gesture toward every ecclesiastical community and as a sign of friendship toward members of other religions and all men and women of good will". Although he is visiting only two cities, Washington and New York, he is addressing all US Catholics.On the 15. April Pope lands in U.S., officially begins trip a day later in Washington with White House luncheon reception. But even beforehand, the Vatican made it clear: Benedict XVI does not want to play politics – at least not campaign politics "The pope will not influence the election process in any way and will not meet any of the candidates for the White House," said the papal nuncio in Washington, Archbishop Pietro Sambi. The trip is intended to improve Benedict XVI's image. "improve something". To many, the pope is still seen as an "intransigent, cold man," as the media often portrayed him earlier during his time at the helm of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. During his visit, "listening to him will be enough to get a radically different picture," the nuncio believes.The positive attitude is there, the plan could well work – at least as far as the results of a survey in the USA are to be believed: according to this, every second US citizen sympathizes with the head of the church. However, Benedict XVI is enjoying. still less prestigious in the U.S. than his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

Speech to the United Nations At the meeting with George W. Bush – it is only the second – the guest from the Vatican also wants to discuss sometimes sensitive ies such as the question of ending the war in Iraq, the situation of Christians in Iraq and the global respect for human rights.Another highlight will be the visit to New York and the Pope's premiere address to the United Nations – an opportunity, according to Mary Ann Glendon, the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, to explicitly remind the world community once again of the values that once led to the founding of the UN.

Synagogue visit As during his 2005 visit to Germany for World Youth Day in Cologne, the Holy Father will also visit a synagogue in the U.S.: on 18. April the Park East Synagogue in New York. The Jewish house of worship stands near the U.N. headquarters. The synagogue visit will take place on the eve of the Jewish Passover holiday. At a meeting with young people in St. Joseph's seminary on 19. April in New York's Yonkers neighborhood, talks are planned with disabled young Catholics, among others, after Kelly Clarkson – the winner of "American Idol" ("America is looking for the superstar") – sang the "Hail Mary". One day later – on 20. April – visits Pope Benedict XVI. then "Ground Zero" in Manhattan and will pray there with some families who died in the terrorist attacks of 11. Those who lost loved ones in the September 2001 tragedy.

Closing service with tens of thousands The emotional highlight and crowning conclusion of the five-day trip will be the Pope's service on the same day, which is expected to attract 57,000 visitors. Almost all the tickets were distributed by lottery among the 195 U.S. dioceses – the only supposedly fair method, because the demand was huge: more than 200,000 believers had expressed interest. After the service, Benedict gets back on his plane and the return trip to Rome to. The next highlight in the 2008 travel year follows less than two months later with World Youth Day in Australia.

Information: As always, this site will broadcast all important appearances and services live.

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