On April 30, Pope Benedict XVI delivered the following thoughts during the General Audience.
Reading this is a good way for us to relive the inspirations of that joyful week.
Even if a few days have already passed since my return, I would like to dedicate the catechesis of today, as I normally do, to the apostolic trip that I made to the United Nations and the United States of America this past April 15 to 21. Before all, I renew my most cordial appreciation to the U.S. episcopal conference, as well as President Bush, for having invited me and for the warm welcome they have given me. And I would like to extend my thanks to all those in Washington and New York who came to greet me and manifest their love for the Pope, or who have accompanied and supported me with prayer and with the offering of their sacrifices.
As we know, the occasion of my trip was the bicentennial of the elevation of the country's first diocese, Baltimore, to a metropolitan see, and the foundation of the sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville. On this characteristically ecclesial anniversary, I have had the joy of personally visiting, for the first time as the Successor of Peter, the dear people of the United States of America, to confirm the Catholics in their faith, to renew and increase fraternity with all Christians, and to announce to everyone the message of "Christ Our Hope," as the theme of the trip said.
In the meeting with the president, in his residence, I was able to pay homage to this great country, which from the beginning has been constructed based on a pleasing joining together of religious, ethical and political principles, and continues to be a valid example of healthy secularism, where the religious dimension, in the diversity of its expressions, is not only tolerated but valued as the "soul" of the nation and the fundamental guarantee of the rights and duties of the human being.
In this context, the Church can carry out its mission of evangelization and human promotion with freedom and commitment and, at the same time, can be a stimulus for a country such as the United States, to which everyone looks as one of the principal agents on the international scene, so that it is oriented toward global solidarity, ever more necessary and urgent, and toward the patient exercise of dialogue in international relations.
This will be continued in two weeks. Next week I will dedicate this column to the Holy Eucharist. May 25 is The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ or Corpus Christ. I realize that it falls within Memorial Day weekend. Nevertheless, I hope that you will take part in the prayers and procession in honor of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It was truly beautiful and inspiring last year as both St. Michael's and Sacred Heart parishes took part in the devotions. This year we will pray before Jesus exposed in the monstrance in Sacred Heart Church after their noon Mass. At 3:00 PM we will proceed outside to pray and sing and then accompany Him down Ridge Rd. to our Church for the remaining prayers and conclusion.
God bless you.