On April 30, Pope Benedict XVI delivered the following thoughts during the General Audience. This is the conclusion of these reflections. Reading this is a good way for us to relive the inspirations of that joyful week. How special it is that God takes care of us with our Holy Father.
At the end of the audience, the Pope greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:
My recent Apostolic Journey to the United Nations and the United States of America was inspired by the theme, "Christ our Hope". I am most grateful to all who helped in any way to make the Journey a success. My visit was meant to encourage the Catholic community in America, especially our young people, to bear consistent witness to the faith, and to carry on the Church's mission, especially with regard to education and concern for the poor. American society traditionally values religious freedom and the need for faith to play its part in building a sound civic life. In my meetings with President Bush, and with Christian leaders and representatives of other religions, I reaffirmed the Church's commitment to cooperation in the service of understanding, peace and spiritual values. My address to the United Nations stressed the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which grounds respect for human dignity in a universally valid ethical order. In a particular way, my visit to Ground Zero, charged with sober silence and prayer, was a moving testimony to the hope which is stronger than evil and death. I ask all of you to join me in praying that this visit will bear abundant spiritual fruit for the growth of the faith in America and for the unity and peace of the whole human family.
I offer a warm welcome to the participants in the third Christian-Buddhist Symposium, meeting in Castel Gandolfo during these days. Upon all of you and upon the English-speaking pilgrims from England, Ireland, Scandinavia, Malta, South Africa, Korea, Thailand, Canada and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Christ.
© Copyright 2008—Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Zenit News Agency correspondent Carrie Gress was interviewed on her experience being so close to the Holy Father during his papal journey, and was asked to give us the inside scoop on the Pontiff's impact on America. Here is her response to the following question:
Q: Do you think the Pontiff's trip to the United States was a success?
Gress: If success can be measured by how one brings Christ to others, I think it was a tremendous success. With Pope John Paul II, people flocked to him because of his personality, exuberance, charm and charisma. Even in his later years, there was still speculation that was the draw for so many young people -- they wanted to be close to a celebrity. But with Pope Benedict, the celebrity flash is just not there—and yet, he drew people in with the same magnetism—a magnetism that can only be attributed to Christ. From the president down to school children, everyone seemed to be caught up by his witness of hope.
How true! We are attracted to Him because he is the Vicar of Christ on earth. When President Bush was asked what did you see when you looked into the Pope's eyes. The President replied: "God."