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His upcoming papal visit will be the first time Pope Francis has ever visited the United States: why?

His upcoming papal visit will be the first time Pope Francis has ever visited the United States: why?

Photo: Mural of Pope Francis, Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters  

The New York Times finds a variety of reasons to explain why Pope Francis has never been to the United States, from the personal to the ideological, as the Pontiff prepares for his first visit here in late September.

Noting his motto, “Go to the peripheries”, the Times uses interviews with authorities familiar with the Pope to suggest that the Pope’s personal distaste for ‘airport bishops’ who are shuttled all over, his focus on visiting the poorest and the most marginalized, and his disappointment with the wealthy nation of America’s “savage capitalism”, are the three main factors explaining his absence from American soil.

They note that the Pope will be following his motto by visiting Cuba first, for a 4 day trip, on his route to Washington D.C., where he’ll meet with the President, pray with Bishops, and preside over a mass, before becoming the first Pope to address a joint meeting of Congress.

The Pope will then travel to New York City for a variety of events, including a multi-faith service at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, and then travel to Philadelphia to attend the international World Meeting of Families, an event founded by Pope St. John Paul II, in a venue chosen by Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The National Catholic Reporter suggests that this is the real reason for the Papal visit, noting that it’s a short trip to an international event, in an article they posted in late August.

Catholic News Services has also written about the visit, exploring the likely themes of the address to Congress, in an article by Cindy Wooden.

The New York Times has also published an infographic mapping the itinerary, which they will be updating as changes occur and announcements are made.

Will you get a chance to attend any of the services or events the Pope will be at this September? Are you excited to see him?


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Ann Fontaine

What a long time from the days of JFK running for president and the fear of the Pope taking over the US government – to this visit and addressing congress. I hope he calls us out for our “savage capitalism” – – perhaps encourage people to stop being complicit (by voting for those who would destroy the safety net) in their own oppression by this system.

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