This post is a compilation of notes and links compiled during and after the Holy Father's journey to the U.S., begun April 15 and completed April 27. The delay was partly attributable to a computer crash that left me without a home computer for about a week.
The Vatican page on the journey provides a schedule for the visit. It has been quickly updated with the texts of all of the Holy Father's words during the journey, provided with official translations into several other languages. The Vatican page also provides a down-loadable copy of the Missal for the journey, which includes the liturgies and some of the music for the various Masses and prayer services.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Official Website for the Journey includes regular news updates and videos of the various events.
In addition to its live broadcasts and re-broadcasts (see yesterday's post on television and radio coverage online), EWTN has a page on the journey. That page includes articles, blog entries, and photos. EWTN also has a page with videos of The World Over's interview with President Bush about the visit and the Pope's Message to the U.S. before his visit.
Christopher Blosser's Benedict in America blog has regular updates on on the visit. Thomas Peters' The American Papist has updates and a lot of photos. Papa Ratzinger Forum has several pages of articles, photos, and texts beginning before the journey and continuing day by day.
TUESDAY, APRIL 15 ARRIVAL
During the flight from Rome to the U.S., the Holy Father answered four questions previously provided by reporters who joined him on the flight. The one that drew the most news media attention was the first question asked, submitted by John L. Allen, Jr. regarding the clergy sex abuse scandal in the U.S. During a broadcast of CNN, Allen stated that he had suggested that the Holy Father answer the question in English due, and he did so.
The Vatican Press Office has posted the text of the questions and answers, all of them in Italian except the one about the sex abuse scandal. The Vatican page on the visit will eventually have a full English translation. For now, Zenit has an English translation of the entire press conference.
At the beginning of the press conference, he mentioned two objectives of the journey. The first was to visit the Church in America, which is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the elevation of the Diocese of Baltimore to the status of metropolis, forming four other U.S. dioceses. It is, he said, "a moment of reflection about the past and above all of reflection about the future, about how to respond to the great challenges of our time, in the present and with sights set on the future." Among the challenges he mentioned later, in the course of his homilies and addresses for the journey, one of several frequent themes was the cultural and ethnic diversity of the U.S. and the unity to be found in Christ. The growth of the Hispanic presence in the U.S. was the subject of the second question. Other challenges of the present included relativism and secularism. Secularism was the subject of the third question he answered.
The second objective for his journey mentioned in the press conference was his visit to the United Nations, which is observing the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the Pope mentioned is the founding philosophy of the United Nations. He said that his visit, taking place "in a moment of a values crisis," would be important to reconfirm the moment when that philosophy began and to recover it for the future. The principles of natural law were the subject of the fourth question he answered, and he described it as the objective of the United Nations, "that it safeguard the common values of humanity."
Here is the official text of the answer to the question about clergy sex abuse:
It is a great suffering for the Church in the United States and for the Church in general, for me personally, that this could happen. If I read the history of these events, it is difficult for me to understand how it was possible for priests to fail in this way the mission to give healing, to give God’s love to these children. I am ashamed and we will do everything possible to ensure that this does not happen in future. I think we have to act on three levels: the first is at the level of justice and the political level. I will not speak at this moment about homosexuality: this is another thing. We will absolutely exclude paedophiles from the sacred ministry; it is absolutely incompatible and who is really guilty of being a paedophile cannot be a priest. So at this first level we can do justice and help the victims, because they are deeply affected; these are the two sides of justice: one, that paedophiles cannot be priests and the other, to help in any possible way the victims. Then, there’s a pastoral level. The victims will need healing and help and assistance and reconciliation: this is a big pastoral engagement and I know that the bishops and the priests and all Catholic people in the United States will do whatever possible to help, to assist, to heal. We have made a visitation of the seminaries and we will do all that is possible in the education of seminarians for a deep spiritual, human and intellectual formation for the students. Only sound persons can be admitted to the priesthood and only persons with a deep personal life in Christ and who have a deep sacramental life. So, I know that the bishops and directors of seminarians will do all possible to have a strong, strong discernment because it is more important to have good priests than to have many priests. This is also our third level, and we hope that we can do and we have done and we will do in the future all that is possible to heal these wounds.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16 - WASHINGTON, D.C.
April 16 was the Holy Father's 81st birthday. The day's events included entertainment and a birthday cake at the White House, multiple choruses of "Happy Birthday," and addresses by the Holy Father and by President Bush.
An article about his birthday celebrations is available from Catholic News Service. Zenit has an article about the crowds who were able to see the Pope from the campus of the Catholic University of America before he entered the National Shrine. He traveled in the Pope-mobile, waving to the crowds.
The full text of the Holy Father's address at the White House welcoming ceremony can be found on the Vatican website. In it, he mentioned the U.S. Constitution's reference to "the 'self-evident truth' that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature's God." In our own time too, he said, "Americans continue to find their strength in a commitment to this patrimony of shared ideals and aspirations." He spoke of the need for personal responsibility, truth as essential to freedom's foundation, the human person created in the image and likeness of God, and the need for global solidarity and international diplomacy. At the end of the address, he said forcefully, "God bless America!", which drew appreciative responses from those present and from those watching by television.
The White House and the Holy See issued a Joint Statement on the Meeting, which provided a brief summary of a number of topics discussed during the brief meeting between the Pope and President Bush.
Afterward, the Holy Father attended a meeting with American cardinals and an evening prayer service with American bishops at the Basilica of the National Shrine for the Immaculate Conception. At the National Shrine, he made his firmest statement to date regarding the sex abuse scandal, saying that it "causes deep shame." Moreover, he said that new policies and programs to address the issue need to be "placed in a wider context" of "sexual mores," giving children a "healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships." He viewed it in context of the family as a whole, asking, "What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today?"
The full text of the Holy Father's Address to Bishops is available from the Vatican and Zenit. The issues discussed include some of the same challenges facing the present day Church in America that he mentioned in answering questions during his flight. Those mentioned in his address to bishops included secularism, materialism, and individualism. He spoke again of the diversity of the origins of the people of the U.S., 200 years ago and still today.
After his address, the Holy Father answered three previously presented questions from the bishops. The Vatican page on the journey has the text of those questions and answers. Among the topics were secularism and relativism, the "scandal given by Catholics who promote an alleged right to abortion," the harmony of faith and reason, natural law, the decline in vocations, prayer, and the need for a "new and engaging ways of proclaiming" the message of the "gift of new life and freedom in Christ."
He then presented the gift of a chalice to Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans (text here). He also presented a Golden Rose of Our Mother Mary to the National Shrine, and Cardinal George presented the Holy Father with a gift of $870,000 from U.S. Catholics as a donation toward Catholic international charitable works. The text of their brief addresses to each other is available from Vatican Radio.
Video is available from the Official Website for the Journey.
THURSDAY, APRIL 17 - WASHINGTON, D.C.
The Holy Father's homily from this morning's Mass at Nationals Stadium is already available on the Vatican's Page for the Journey. At the end of the homily, he spoke in Spanish. His words in Spanish were left in Spanish on the Vatican website. Zenit has the Vatican's text of the homily with Zenit's own English translation of the portion delivered in Spanish. The Vatican Radio text does not include the Spanish portion. However, by clicking on the speaker icon at the end of the text, you can access an audio recording of the homily down-loadable for Real Player.
The music at the Mass at Nationals Stadium has been a topic of much conversation on television and in the news reports and blogs. Among them, see Insight Scoop, The New Liturgical Movement, Benedict in America (Christopher Blosser) and Father Z. Richard John Neuhaus at First Things wrote, "The Thursday Mass at Nationals Park introduced the Holy Father to aspects of the aesthetic suffering endured by the faithful in America."
The Pope's homily at Nationals Stadium spoke of the diversity that has existed in the Catholic Church in the U.S. for the past 200 years, saying that the Church in America "has come to appreciate ever more fully the importance of each individual and group offering its own particular gifts to the whole." Speaking of the unity within the Church, he also said that "In every time and place, the Church is called to grow in unity trough constant conversion to Christ, whose saving work is proclaimed by the Successors of the Apostles and celebrated in the sacraments." Just as the increasing ethnic and cultural diversity in the U.S. was portrayed in the music, one of the repeated themes in the Holy Father's words in the U.S. was the role of the Church in building unity at a time when there are "signs of a disturbing breakdown in the very foundations of society" as well as "the presence of division and polarization" within the Church itself" as some "embrace attitudes contrary to the truth of the Gospel."
He raised his theme of "Christ our Hope," mentioning Americans as "a people of hope" and the Christian virtue of "the hope poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit." Again, he spoke of the "pain and harm" inflicted by the sex abuse of minors, asking everyone "to do what you can to foster healing and reconciliation and to assist those who have been hurt" as well as "to love your priests, and to affirm them in the excellent work that they do." His discussion of prayer is discussed separately below.
At 4:15 p.m., the Pope met privately for 25 minutes with 5 or 6 victims of clergy sexual abuse, speaking to each of them privately. John L. Allen, Jr. called it "an unexpected and essentially unprecedented move." Vatican Radio has a short reference and an audio broadcast story to download. CNN has an article together with a video of victims telling about their meeting with the pope. Other articles about the meeting can be found from the Associated Press, Catholic News Service, among other sources.
At 5:00 p.m., he met with Catholic educators at Catholic University of America. His address to them is available from the Vatican, Catholic University of America, Vatican Radio and Zenit. The Catholic University of America has a news release about the address together with photos. While his role as a former professor came through more clearly when he spoke to seminary students later in the journey, his address to Catholic educators might be seen as a master educator speaking to other educators about priorities and necessities in Catholic education. He said, "First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth (cf., Spe Salvi, 4)." The Holy Father suggested that while educators have engaged their students' intellect, "perhaps we have neglected the will," with a subsequent distortion of the notion of freedom.
He spoke about faith and reason, affirming that the "truths of faith and of reason never contradict one another." He spoke of the Church's role in "humanity's struggle to arrive at truth," mentioning that the Church's contribution of revealed truth, purifying reason, "illuminates the very truth which makes consensus attainable, and helps to keep public debate rational, honest and accountable." Affirming the value of academic freedom, adding that academic freedom cannot be used to justify "positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church" in Catholic universities and schools, which would "obstruct or even betray the university's identity and mission."
The themes of truth, tolerance, faith and reason have been the subject of earlier writings and addresses by Pope Benedict. Among the sources for his other discussions on these themes are his Lecture at the University of Regensburg, which was also addressed primarily to academics, and a collection of essays published under the title Truth and Tolerance.
In the evening, he met with representatives of other religions at the John Paul II Cultural Center. The text of his address to them can be found at the Vatican page on the journey, Zenit and EWTN. The address appeared to me to have been written with the expectation that it would be heard by people from other religions who knew little of Christianity. Given the diversity within the U.S. itself, the availability of televised addresses throughout most of the world by internet, and his own past experience, it would have been a reasonable assumption that many viewers would have little background in interfaith dialogue. Encouraging all religious groups to "persevere in their collaboration and thus enrich public life with the spiritual values that motivate your action in the world," he mentioned shared ethical values as "a way of serving society at large." In addition, he spoke of the central beliefs of Christianity in a way that reminded me of St. Paul's sermon at the Areopagus (Acts 17:22-31):
"Throughout history, men and women have striven to articulate their restlessness with this passing world. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Psalms are full of such expressions: “My spirit is overwhelmed within me” (Ps 143:4; cf. Ps 6:6; 31:10; 32:3; 38:8; 77:3); “why are you cast down, my soul, why groan within me?” (Ps 42:5). The response is always one of faith: “Hope in God, I will praise him still; my Savior and my God” (Ps 42:5, 11; cf. Ps 43:5; 62:5). Spiritual leaders have a special duty, and we might say competence, to place the deeper questions at the forefront of human consciousness, to reawaken mankind to the mystery of human existence, and to make space in a frenetic world for reflection and prayer.
"Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth. He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue. The ardent desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds and hearts in dialogue (cf. Lk 10:25-37; Jn 4:7-26)."
His address subsequently delivered in writing to the Jewish Community, as his meeting with them was late and he was tired, is also online from the Vatican, Zenit and EWTN. His short greeting to the Jewish representatives is available from the Vatican. Of particular interest, following objections from some in the Jewish community to his revision to a prayer for the Jews in the traditional Good Friday liturgy, he stated, "In addressing myself to you I wish to re-affirm the Second Vatican Council’s teaching on Catholic-Jewish relations and reiterate the Church’s commitment to the dialogue that in the past forty years has fundamentally changed our relationship for the better."
FRIDAY, APRIL 18 - NEW YORK CITY
EWTN has videos of the Pope's arrival in New York early Friday morning, his address to the U.N., his address at a synagogue, and his address to an ecumenical meeting. KTO (French) has a 1-1/2 hour video of the Pope's visit to the U.N., with his address beginning about 46 minutes into the video (viewable by Windows XP with Explorer 7 and Windows Media Player 11).
His address to the United Nations is available from the Vatican, EWTN and Zenit. His greeting to U.N. staff is available from the Vatican and Zenit. The U.N. Secretary General's greeting to the Pope is on Zenit.
The Pope's address to the U.N. marked the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He recalled that "The founding principles of the Organization – the desire for peace, the quest for justice, respect for the dignity of the person, humanitarian cooperation and assistance – express the just aspirations of the human spirit, and constitute the ideals which should underpin international relations." He spoke of natural law as the basis for such rights:
"It is evident, though, that the rights recognized and expounded in the Declaration apply to everyone by virtue of the common origin of the person, who remains the high-point of God’s creative design for the world and for history. They are based on the natural law inscribed on human hearts and present in different cultures and civilizations. Removing human rights from this context would mean restricting their range and yielding to a relativistic conception, according to which the meaning and interpretation of rights could vary and their universality would be denied in the name of different cultural, political, social and even religious outlooks. This great variety of viewpoints must not be allowed to obscure the fact that not only rights are universal, but so too is the human person, the subject of those rights."
He also spoke of "a vision of life firmly anchored in the religious dimension" as helping to achieve a social order respectful of the "dignity and rights of the person," in that "recognition of the transcendent value of every man and woman favours conversion of heart, which then tends to a commitment to resist violence, terrorism and war, and to promote justice and peace. This also provide the proper context for the inter-religious dialogue that the United Nations is called to support, just as it supports dialogue in other areas of human activity." He spoke of the importance of religious liberty as among those human rights to be protected. He also said that the Church is committed to contributing to the U.N. her experience of humanity, developed over centuries among "peoples of every race and culture." Thus, the cultural diversity within the Catholic Church was again raised as a valuable contribution to society as the Christian faith has brought diverse cultures into unity in the Church.
As in his address to an inter-faith gathering, he again spoke specifically of Christian motivation drawn from Jesus Christ:
"In my recent Encyclical, Spe Salvi, I indicated that “every generation has the task of engaging anew in the arduous search for the right way to order human affairs” (no. 25). For Christians, this task is motivated by the hope drawn from the saving work of Jesus Christ. That is why the Church is happy to be associated with the activity of this distinguished Organization, charged with the responsibility of promoting peace and good will throughout the earth."
Later in the day, the Holy Father met briefly with the Jewish community at a New York synagogue shortly before the Sabbath of Passover, and then delivered an address to an ecumenical meeting at St. Joseph's Church. The text of his greeting at the synagogue is online from the Vatican, Vatican Radio and EWTN.
The text of his address to the ecumenical meeting is also available from the Vatican, Vatican Radio and EWTN. Again, he spoke of unity, this time mentioning that St. Paul calls us to live in "a way that bears witness to the one heart and mind" (Acts 4:32). He said that "a faithful witness to the Gospel is as urgent as ever" in the context of globalization and a sense of global solidarity at the same time as a growth of fragmentation and individualism. He cautioned that non-Christians are confused by the splintering of Christian communities. Catholic News Service said that, although the Pope did not offer specific examples, his "concerns obviously extend to the Anglican Communion and its troubled relations with the U.S. Episcopal Church and some dioceses in Canada" in saying:
"Fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called “prophetic actions” that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition. Communities consequently give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of “local options”. Somewhere in this process the need for diachronic koinonia – communion with the Church in every age – is lost, just at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:18-23)."
That reference to "prophetic actions" brings to mind the claim of some activists within the Episcopal Church that their support of such things as gay marriage or the election of an actively gay bishop is somehow "prophetic" of what they would like to think other Christians will believe in the future, although recognizing that their beliefs have always been, and still are now, rejected by a large majority of other Christians. The phrase "local option" should be understood in the context of such things as the Church of Canada's Diocese of Niagara which, last November, voted to allow the "local option" of allowing those clergy whose consciences permit them to do so to marry gays and lesbians while others within the same diocese will not do so. In response, the Pope recalled that "the unity of the Church flows from the perfect oneness of the Trinitarian God" and that throughout the New Testament, the core of the Apostles' argument "was always the historical fact of Jesus's bodily resurrection from the tomb (Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30)." He said at one point emphatically, "He alone is our hope!"
SATURDAY, APRIL 19 - NEW YORK CITY
Celebrating the third anniversary of his election to the papacy, the Holy Father celebrated Mass Saturday morning at St. Patrick's Cathedral for priests and men and women religious. The text of his homily is available from the Vatican, including his impromptu remarks at the end. The text, without the impromptu remarks, is posted by Vatican Radio and EWTN. EWTN offers the video of the Mass online.
In his homily, the Holy Father spoke about "spiritual unity – the unity which reconciles and enriches diversity" which, he said, "has its origin and supreme model in the life of the triune God." The cathedral, he said, prompts us to think of those who have gone before us who have worked for the growth of the Church in the United States, where the Church's mission has always involved drawing together people from every nation into spiritual unity. Mentioning the Gothic cathedral's stained glass windows, he applied them to explain the mystery of the Church, saying that "we, who live the life of grace within the Church’s communion, are called to draw all people into this mystery of light." As Gothic churches are highly complex structures, he said, symbolizing the unity of God's creation, requiring from us a constant conversion. As with the dynamic tension that lifts a Gothic cathedral upward, he said that we "need to acknowledge and reverence the gifts of each and every member of the body as 'manifestations of the Spirit given for the good of all'."
In a key paragraph, he spoke of the need for turning our gaze to find unity in the complexity and diversity of today's world:
"For all of us, I think, one of the great disappointments which followed the Second Vatican Council, with its call for a greater engagement in the Church’s mission to the world, has been the experience of division between different groups, different generations, different members of the same religious family. We can only move forward if we turn our gaze together to Christ! In the light of faith, we will then discover the wisdom and strength needed to open ourselves to points of view which may not necessarily conform to our own ideas or assumptions. Thus we can value the perspectives of others, be they younger or older than ourselves, and ultimately hear “what the Spirit is saying” to us and to the Church (cf. Rev 2:7). In this way, we will move together towards that true spiritual renewal desired by the Council, a renewal which can only strengthen the Church in that holiness and unity indispensable for the effective proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world."
Later in the day, he met with a large group of disabled young people at St. Joseph Seminary (Dunwoodie). The text of his words to them can be found on the Vatican website.
Afterward, he addressed a crowd of about 25,000 young people, including 5,000 seminarians on the grounds of the same seminary. His address to them was one of his deepest and most impressive of the journey. The official text is on the Vatican website. Christopher Blosser has an overview and a video of Kelly Clarkson singing Ave Maria for the Holy Father.
In a personal note, I had chosen the meeting with young people and seminarians as a key event for my own personal prayer for this event. While watching the actual event and praying at the same time, my home laptop hard drive crashed unexpectedly -- that is the new laptop that I bought 2 months ago. I had EWTN on the TV and KTO (French Catholic) on the laptop because they didn't always show the same thing. All I could do was think that the timing was certainly odd. While telephonic customer service to arrange to take it in for repairs later that afternoon, I could only give thanks for having something unexpected to offer up for the intention, even while it distracted from my prayer.
The address contained a substantial discussion of prayer, which appears at the bottom of this post together with other comments about prayer made during this journey. Part of his discussion of considering one's own vocation fell within his comments on prayer.
He spoke of the diversity of the saints and blesseds, and of their common elements: "Inflamed with the love of Jesus, their lives became remarkable journeys of hope." Later in the address, he remembered the prayer from the Easter Vigil's blessing of the fire, "Father we share in the light of your glory through your Son the light of the world -- inflame us with your hope!" He remembered the words of the Exsultet sung at the Easter Vigil, that the light of Christ "dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence . . . and humbles earthly pride." He said:
"This is Christ’s light at work. This is the way of the saints. It is a magnificent vision of hope – Christ’s light beckons you to be guiding stars for others, walking Christ’s way of forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, joy and peace."
In the course of the address, he said emphatically to enthusiastic response, "Take courage!" and later, "Have courage!"
In addition, he again addressed the subject of truth and relativism, previously a major portion of his address to Catholic educators and now a portion of his address to Catholic students. Also in both addresses, he spoke of the need to consider the freedom of the individual in the context of the truth of the human person. He said, "Ultimately, truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and alowing oneself to be drawn into Christ's very being for others (cf. Spe Salvi, 28)."
SUNDAY, APRIL 20 - NEW YORK CITY
On the morning of the last day of his journey, the Holy Father's first event was a quiet and solemn visit to Ground Zero, the location of the former World Trade Center. There, he knelt in prayer before a gathering of families and others closely connected to the Twin Towers attack of September 11, 2001. The Vatican posts the full text of his Prayer at Ground Zero. Here is one of the verses from the prayer:
God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.
His final Mass during the journey was at Yankee's Stadium and was beautifully done. I gathered from the EWTN television commentary that one piece of choral music was changed to something simpler, and yet the simpler choice ("Let Us Break Bread Together") was one of my favorite pieces of choral work for Mass. For a combined choir, it struck me that a wise choice was made to select pieces of music that were well known to singers from diverse backgrounds and, at the same time, appropriate to Mass. The Vatican has the text of the Holy Father's final homily from this U.S. journey.
He again spoke of the diversity within the Church -- this time referring to the "linguistic and cultural tensions already present within the earliest Church community" described in the Acts of the Apostles, and the unity that has existed in Christ from that time:
"At the same time, it shows the power of the word of God, authoritatively proclaimed by the Apostles and received in faith, to create a unity which transcends the divisions arising from human limitations and weakness. Here we are reminded of a fundamental truth: that the Church’s unity has no other basis than the Word of God, made flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord. All external signs of identity, all structures, associations and programs, valuable or even essential as they may be, ultimately exist only to support and foster the deeper unity which, in Christ, is God’s indefectible gift to his Church."
Another issue he mentioned was authority and obedience, mentioned in connection with another discussion of individual freedom. "The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love." A portion of the homily about prayer and the Kingdom of God is quoted at the bottom of this post together with other discussions of prayer during the journey. Referencing the words of I Peter 2:9, in which St. Peter said of Christians, "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation," he said:
"And this, dear friends, is the particular challenge which the Successor of Saint Peter sets before you today. As “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation”, follow faithfully in the footsteps of those who have gone before you! Hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom in this land! Past generations have left you an impressive legacy. In our day too, the Catholic community in this nation has been outstanding in its prophetic witness in the defense of life, in the education of the young, in care for the poor, the sick and the stranger in your midst. On these solid foundations, the future of the Church in America must even now begin to rise!"
He added a final comment to the young people and seminarians, saying to all, "They are the Church’s future, and they deserve all the prayer and support that you can give them."
The Departure Ceremony, in a hangar at J.F.K. airport, was also well done. The Vatican has the text of the Holy Father's address from the farewell ceremony.
Two More Topics Mentioned Repeatedly During the Journey
The Pope's repeated, clear statements about the clergy sex abuse scandal received much deserved comment from the press during and after his journey. Those comments as well as his repeated discussions of the Church's unity amid cultural and ethnic diversity, are mentioned at length above. Here are two more topics that he mentioned repeatedly in various addresses and homilies, grouped by subject matter:
Family and Life Issues
Remembering Pope John Paul II, the Holy Father said in his Address to Bishops, "It is your task to proclaim boldly the arguments from faith and reason in favor of the institution of marriage, understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, open to the transmission of life."
In answering one of the questions he took from bishops following that address, he mentioned abortion in connection with a discussion of secularism and relativism. Rather than "being transformed and renewed in mind," he said, Christians are "tempted to conform themselves to the spirit of the age (cf. Rom 12:3). We have seen this emerge in an acute way in the scandal given by Catholics who promote an alleged right to abortion."
In his Votive Mass for the Universal Church given at St. Patrick's Cathedral on April 19, he spoke of the Church's call to promote a culture of life in the context of spiritual unity and the proclamation of abundant life that is the heart of the new evangelization:
"In this morning’s second reading, Saint Paul reminds us that spiritual unity – the unity which reconciles and enriches diversity – has its origin and supreme model in the life of the triune God. As a communion of pure love and infinite freedom, the Blessed Trinity constantly brings forth new life in the work of creation and redemption. The Church, as “a people made one by the unity of the Father, the Son and the Spirit” (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4), is called to proclaim the gift of life, to serve life, and to promote a culture of life. Here in this cathedral, our thoughts turn naturally to the heroic witness to the Gospel of life borne by the late Cardinals Cooke and O’Connor. The proclamation of life, life in abundance, must be the heart of the new evangelization. For true life – our salvation – can only be found in the reconciliation, freedom and love which are God’s gracious gift."
In his words to youth with disabilities, he mentioned God's love, which "points to a meaning and purpose for all human life."
In his address to youth and seminarians at St. Joseph's Seminary on April 20, he said that the "essence of the hope that defines us as Christians" is the hope that the power to destroy "never triumphs; it is defeated." Jesus is "the true teacher of life (cf. Spe Salvi, 6). His death and resurrection mean that we can say to the Father “you have restored us to life!” (Prayer after Communion, Good Friday)." In discussing vocations, he particularly mentioned the vocation of matrimony, saying, "the true teacher of life (cf. Spe Salvi, 6). His death and resurrection mean that we can say to the Father “you have restored us to life!” (Prayer after Communion, Good Friday)."
In his Address to Bishops, the Holy Father mentioned several forms of prayer, saying:
"Time spent in prayer is never wasted, however urgent the duties that press upon us from every side. Adoration of Christ our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament prolongs and intensifies the union with him that is established through the Eucharistic celebration (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, 66). Contemplation of the mysteries of the Rosary releases all their saving power and it conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ (cf. Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 11, 15). Fidelity to the Liturgy of the Hours ensures that the whole of our day is sanctified and it continually reminds us of the need to remain focused on doing God’s work, however many pressures and distractions may arise from the task at hand. Thus our devotion helps us to speak and act in persona Christi, to teach, govern and sanctify the faithful in the name of Jesus, to bring his reconciliation, his healing and his love to all his beloved brothers and sisters. This radical configuration to Christ, the Good Shepherd, lies at the heart of our pastoral ministry, and if we open ourselves through prayer to the power of the Spirit, he will give us the gifts we need to carry out our daunting task, so that we need never “be anxious how to speak or what to say” (Mt 10:19)."
Answering a question from a bishop afterward, he spoke of prayer as being an aspect of vocations work that is sometimes forgotten or undervalued. This, he said, not only applied to prayer for vocations but also "Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, is the first means by which we come to know the Lord’s will for our lives."
In his homily the next day at Nationals Stadium, he mentioned the second reading for Mass that day in which St. Paul spoke of "prayer which arises from the depths of our hearts in sighs too deep for words, in 'groanings' (Rom 8:26) inspired by the Spirit." He said:
"It is a prayer of unfailing hope, but also one of patient endurance and, often, accompanied by suffering for the truth. Through this prayer, we share in the mystery of Christ’s own weakness and suffering, while trusting firmly in the victory of his Cross. With this prayer, may the Church in America embrace ever more fully the way of conversion and fidelity to the demands of the Gospel. And may all Catholics experience the consolation of hope, and the Spirit’s gifts of joy and strength."
On April 18, he mentioned "the centrality of prayer in the ecumenical movement" in his address at an ecumenical prayer service in New York.
Prayer was one of the main themes of his address to youth and seminarians at St. Joseph's Seminary on April 20. Among "four essential aspects of the treasure of our faith" he mentioned personal prayer and silence as well as liturgical prayer. Here is his substantial discussion from that address:
"What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God. That relationship is expressed in prayer. God by his very nature speaks, hears, and replies. Indeed, Saint Paul reminds us: we can and should “pray constantly” (1 Thess 5:17). Far from turning in on ourselves or withdrawing from the ups and downs of life, by praying we turn towards God and through him to each other, including the marginalized and those following ways other than God’s path (cf. Spe Salvi, 33). As the saints teach us so vividly, prayer becomes hope in action. Christ was their constant companion, with whom they conversed at every step of their journey for others.
"There is another aspect of prayer which we need to remember: silent contemplation. Saint John, for example, tells us that to embrace God’s revelation we must first listen, then respond by proclaiming what we have heard and seen (cf. 1 Jn 1:2-3; Dei Verbum, 1). Have we perhaps lost something of the art of listening? Do you leave space to hear God’s whisper, calling you forth into goodness? Friends, do not be afraid of silence or stillness, listen to God, adore him in the Eucharist. Let his word shape your journey as an unfolding of holiness.
"In the liturgy we find the whole Church at prayer. The word liturgy means the participation of God’s people in “the work of Christ the Priest and of His Body which is the Church” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). What is that work? First of all it refers to Christ’s Passion, his Death and Resurrection, and his Ascension – what we call the Paschal Mystery. It also refers to the celebration of the liturgy itself. The two meanings are in fact inseparably linked because this “work of Jesus” is the real content of the liturgy. Through the liturgy, the “work of Jesus” is continually brought into contact with history; with our lives in order to shape them. Here we catch another glimpse of the grandeur of our Christian faith. Whenever you gather for Mass, when you go to Confession, whenever you celebrate any of the sacraments, Jesus is at work. Through the Holy Spirit, he draws you to himself, into his sacrificial love of the Father which becomes love for all. We see then that the Church’s liturgy is a ministry of hope for humanity. Your faithful participation, is an active hope which helps to keep the world – saints and sinners alike – open to God; this is the truly human hope we offer everyone (cf. Spe Salvi, 34).
"Your personal prayer, your times of silent contemplation, and your participation in the Church’s liturgy, bring you closer to God and also prepare you to serve others. The saints accompanying us this evening show us that the life of faith and hope is also a life of charity. Contemplating Jesus on the Cross we see love in its most radical form. We can begin to imagine the path of love along which we must move (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 12). . . .
"I urge you to deepen your friendship with Jesus the Good Shepherd. Talk heart to heart with him. . . .
"Nourished by personal prayer, prompted in silence, shaped by the Church’s liturgy you will discover the particular vocation God has for you. Embrace it with joy."
Prayer was also a topic in the Holy Father's final homily for the journey given at Yankee Stadium on April 21. There he spoke of the prayer "Thy Kingdom come" from the Lord's Prayer and its implications for how we live:
"Each day, throughout this land, you and so many of your neighbors pray to the Father in the Lord’s own words: “Thy Kingdom come”. This prayer needs to shape the mind and heart of every Christian in this nation. It needs to bear fruit in the way you lead your lives and in the way you build up your families and your communities. It needs to create new “settings of hope” (cf. Spe Salvi, 32ff.) where God’s Kingdom becomes present in all its saving power.
"Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ’s victory and a commitment to extending his reign. It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, “there is no human activity – even in secular affairs – which can be withdrawn from God’s dominion” (Lumen Gentium, 36). It means working to enrich American society and culture with the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and never losing sight of that great hope which gives meaning and value to all the other hopes which inspire our lives."