Pope Francis has added New York to his list of destinations trip to the United States.
While not everything is set in stone by the Holy See, according to Cardinal Dolan’s blog, the Pope’s trip will be finalized by March 1. Dolan, the current Archbishop of the New York Archdiocese, wrote on his blog, “He plans to be there September 26-27, so we should welcome him.” Pope Francis also announced the New York stop while speaking to reporters on his return flight from the Philippines last week. The itinerary for New York includes addressing the United Nations, as well as holding mass at the Madison Square Garden.
The Pope has confirmed that, in addition to New York, he will also be visiting Washington, DC and Philadelphia. This will be his first time visiting the two cities since becoming the head of the Roman Catholic Church. It is anticipated that he will visit the White House, address Congress and visit Ground Zero. In regards to speculation that he would also visit California, the state Junipero Serra founded missions in, he said, “I would like to go to California for the canonization of Junipero, but I think there is a problem of time. It requires two more days.” Instead, the sainthood ceremony for the 18th century Spanish Franciscan priest most likely will take place at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.
The Pope will be taking part in a massive Catholic rally for families in Philadelphia as well. CBS News’ Allen Pizzey said that “Francis’ record for rallies makes it a massive challenge for the organizers.” His mass in Manila drew a record 6 million people. When he spoke to reporters on his flight home, he said he would have liked to enter through the Mexican border, “as a sign of brotherhood and of help to the immigrants.”
Previous Papal visits were a bit different. Pope John Paul II held a giant Mass at Yankee Stadium during his New York visit, and Pope Benedict XVI prayed at Ground Zero. Pope Francis, however, will be more controversial, as he plans to canonize Serra, whose role with the Native Americans conversions is still highly controversial today.