Source AP ©

Pope to travel to US as pontiff next year

Pope Benedict XVI scheduled his first visit to the United States, the White House, and ground zero and plans to speak at the United Nations next year.

Benedict will travel to Washington and New York from April 15-20, speak at the United Nations on April 18 and visit ground zero on the final day of his trip.

The pope will visit the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York to show "solidarity with those who have died, with their families and with all those who wish an end of violence and in the search of peace," said Sambi, the Vatican's ambassador to the U.S.

The visit will take place on the third anniversary of Benedict's election to succeed Pope John Paul II, who died in April 2005.

An official welcome reception for Benedict will be held at the White House on April 16, Sambi said. The pontiff will celebrate two public Masses, first at the new Nationals Park in Washington on April 17, and again at Yankee Stadium on April 20.

He will also hold meetings with priests, Catholic university presidents, diocesan educators and young people.

"The pope will not travel much, but he will address himself to the people of the United States and the whole Catholic Church," Sambi said.

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