“Since many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church and others are non-believers, from the bottom of my heart I give this silent blessing to each and every one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you but knowing that each one of you is a child of God.” Pope Francis
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY –– With the crowd chanting “Ho Ho, Hey, Hey Hey, Welcome to the U.S.A.,” Pope Francis landed on U.S. soil via Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for the first time just before 4 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, launching a six-day visit that will highlight his “love for the poor and his willingness to tackle America’s most significant political, social and economic controversies.”
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, along with Vice President Joe Biden and his family, traveled to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington to greet the pontiff, who arrived from Cuba, in an unprecedented welcome for a foreign dignitary.
Francis became the fourth head of the Catholic Church to visit the United States, nearly 50 years after Paul VI made the first visit by a pontiff to the country in October 1965.
The pontiff’s first visit in this city on September 25 will bring him to the St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the United Nations general assembly.
He will also visit the Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem. The Pope will ride a motorcade through Central Park, and conduct a Mass at Madison Square Garden, among other activities.
Whole sections of Manhattan will be off limits for extended periods.
According to amnewyork, the city promises the intense security is necessary and asks everyday New Yorkers for patience.
“Business owners and residents might be a bit frustrated by the changes, but at the end of the day, they understand the trade-offs that come with such a historic week,” it stressed.
The Washington visit on September 24 could be the most politically significant day of his trip, with the first-ever joint address to Congress by a pontiff before head to New York.
He will host a religious service at the ground zero site of the September 11 attacks in 2001 and address the United Nations. His trip ends Sunday in Philadelphia.
Official schedule for Pope Francis’ Visit to U.S.: Washington D.C., Tuesday, September 22, 2015; 4 pm: Pope Francis arrives in D.C. at Joint Base Andrews at 4 p.m.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015; 9:15 a.m: White House Welcoming Ceremony and personal meeting with President Barack Obama; 11:00 a.m. Papal Parade along the Ellipse and the National Mall; 11:30 a.m: Midday Prayer with U.S. bishops at Saint Matthew’s Cathedral in D.C.; 4:15 p.m: Junipero Serra Canonization Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Thursday, September 24, 2015; 9:20 a.m: Arrival at Capitol; 10 a.m. Speech to the Senate and House of Representatives (Joint Session of Congress); 11 a.m. Brief appearance on West Front of Capitol; 11:15 a.m: Visit to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in D.C. and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington; 4 p.m: Departure for New York from Joint Base Andrews (D.C.); 5 p.m. Arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport (New York); 6:45 p.m. Evening prayer at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Pope Francis Visits New York, Friday, September 25, 2015; 8:30 a.m United Nations General-Assembly; 11:30 a.m Multi-religious service at 9/11 Memorial and Museum, World Trade Center; 4 p.m. Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem; 5 p.m. Papal motorcade through Central Park; 6 p.m. Madison Square Garden Mass
Pope Francis Visits Philadelphia, Saturday, September 26, 2015; 8:40 a.m Departure for Philadelphia from John F. Kennedy International Airport; 9:30 a.m Arrival in Atlantic Aviation hangar at Philadelphia International Airport Philadelphia; 10:30 a.m Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul; 4:45 p.m Visit to Independence Mall; 7:30 p.m Visit to Festival of Families at Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Prayer Vigil with World Meeting of Families
Sunday, September 27, 2015; 9:15 a.m Papal meeting with Bishops at St. Martin’s Chapel, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary; 11 a.m Visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility; 4 p.m Papal Mass for World Meeting of Families; 7 p.m. Visit with organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families at Atlantic Aviation; 8 p.m Departure for return to Rome.