Pope Francis’ visit to the United States beginning Sept. 22, is a truly unique event and one of great significance. There have been many other visits by popes; St. John Paul II visited the U.S. seven times, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Paul VI each made one visit.
What makes this papal visit unique is that for the first time a pope has been invited to address the United States Congress. Indeed, Pope Francis will make history when he speaks to a Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress on Thursday, Sept. 24. Pope Francis will be the third Pope to meet with a U.S. President. He will also meet with Speaker of the House John Boehner.
His Washington, D.C., visit is significant because he is expected to address the hot-button issues of immigration, climate change, and income and racial inequality.The original purpose of his visit is to participate in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. The Washington, D.C., visit and his canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra in the nation’s capitol were later additions to the schedule.
Papal addresses to the United Nations General Assembly have become quite regular.His will be the fifth, having been preceded by addresses by Pope Paul VI, St. John Paul II, and Pope Benedict. Again, the Holy Father is expected to address the worldwide issues of war, refugees, migration, poverty and the ecological crisis.
After spending Tuesday and Wednesday in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the Pope will fly to New York City for his UN address Friday morning and a Mass at Madison Square Garden that evening. Saturday he will arrive in Philadelphia where he will participate in several activities of the World Meeting of Families and visit Independence Mall following Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. Sunday he will travel to a correctional institution to visit with prisoners who made the chair he will use at the afternoon Mass closing the World Meeting of Families.
That Mass will be shown live on big screens at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, as an outreach of the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I invite and encourage all to join in this celebration on Sunday Sept. 27 as we come together to watch and listen as Pope Francis celebrates this historic Mass.
A number of us will travel to Washington, New York and Philadelphia to see the pope. I will be tweeting and all of the events will be fully covered by The Texas Catholic and on diocese social media accounts.
You will all be in my prayers during this holy and joyful time. I ask that you please pray that our Holy Father will be met with open hearts and minds and that his visit to our great country will be safe, happy and fruitful.
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