'Monumental' US Visit Ahead

Unprecedented presidential welcome kick off Pope's jam-packed itinerary
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2008 5:05 PM CDT
Pope Benedict XVI, next to Vatican State Secretary Cardinal Tarciso Bertone, left, and Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, gestures as he answers journalists' questions aboard the airplane...   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
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(Newser) – Today's arrival of Pope Benedict XVI "had the look and feel of a monumental and historic event," a CNN correspondent notes—and the six-day visit will indeed be eventful. Benedict will speak to US Catholic leadership tomorrow after a welcoming ceremony at the White House, then visit the UN. The Vatican hopes to galvanize American Catholics, whose enthusiasm has been sapped by sex scandals.

The US Catholic community regards Benedict favorably, but less so than his predecessor. "He doesn't quite get the same energy from crowds—John Paul II was extroverted and got energy talking to people, and the present Holy Father loses energy,” said the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. “He has to rest between all these encounters."