Hopes expressed for pope's visit - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Hopes expressed for pope’s visit

I was just looking at an artist’s rendering of what Yankee Stadium will look like when our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, presides at the eucharistic liturgy to be celebrated there on Sunday, April 20. The moment brought the realization that just a week from today, Pope Benedict will be in Washington, D.C., to begin his stay in the United States.
 

I have been praying for the success of his visit — that it will be good for him and good for the Church in the United States. Pope Benedict is a man of enormous energy and powerful commitment, but he faces a schedule that would tax the energy of the strongest among us.
 

The theme of his visit is hope. In the great number of talks that he will give in the six days that he is among us, he will develop that theme according to the particular circumstances of the constituencies to whom he will be speaking.
 

Those groups are widely diverse. Let me name just some of them: the General Assembly of the United Nations; the bishops of the United States; an educational leader from every diocese in the United States; leadership of the Jewish community; leaders of other interfaith communities and ecumenical partners; the people who will gather with him at Ground Zero; the eucharistic gatherings at Nationals Park in Washington and at Yankee Stadium in New York; a youth rally at the seminary in New York; the people gathering at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Archdiocese of New York.
 

Believe me, that is only a sampling of the groups that Pope Benedict will address. As I look at them, I do so with a sense that they will all welcome words of hope. My guess is that not one of those groups will gather without carrying in their hearts some fear or concern about the future. For all of the good things happening around us — and they are many — we all have a deep sense that the human family is challenged by very troubling issues.
 

It is a beautiful exercise of the papal office and an apt expression of Pope Benedict’s singular gifts that he should address the theme of hope. I expect that he will share his vision of humankind’s God-given call to life, remind us of time-tested principles that contribute to growth and freedom and challenge us to use our gifts not just to improve our lives but to help those who do not enjoy life’s basic necessities.
 

My fondest hope is that — whatever Pope Benedict has to say — our Holy Father will stimulate a lot of thought, spark many conversations and call us all to prayer. Within that hope, I fold the smaller one that you will be in touch with the electronic and print media that will carry his message to you. This will be a privileged time to share the good news, to understand what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ and how that should relate to the world in which we find ourselves.
 

A concluding note: I renew my request for your prayers for Pope Benedict. He will celebrate his 81st birthday while he is with us. May he return to Rome feeling very well and with his own hope renewed because of his experience among us.
 

Peace to all.

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