Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lombardi: Benedict's visit to Ground Zero among the most anticipated moments of his U.S. visit

Benedict XVI's time of prayer at Ground Zero will be among "the most emotional and eagerly awaited moments" of his upcoming trip to the United States, says Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office. The event is expected to last 30 minutes and will be televised internationally. Zenit News Service reports:

International interest has affected scheduling for the visit, Father Lombardi explained, saying that the stop at Ground Zero will take place Sunday morning, April 20, "since in that way, Europe can also follow along, due to the interest this has stirred up."

The Pope will be accompanied at Ground Zero by Cardinal Edward Egan of New York. Plans call for him to kneel for a few moments of private, silent prayer. He will then be escorted by the cardinal to a pool of water and exposed earth in the center of the carpet, where he will light a candle, offer a prayer, and sprinkle the ground with holy water. The Holy Father will then offer a blessing to the invited guests.

"The Pope will not give an address," Father Lombardi affirmed. "It is an event of prayer, recollection and respect for the drama, the tragedy that happened in this place.

"The Pope will not multiply words. He goes and he prays."

Afterward, Benedict XVI will salute the mayor of the city and other local authorities, as well as 24 people who represent five categories of those affected by the 9/11 attacks: survivors, family of the victims, and representatives of the police, firemen and civil security.