Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI's visit to "Ground Zero" (World Trade Center)

What's Happening Today: Sunday, April 20
9:30 a.m. - Visit to Ground Zero - Site of the Former World Trade Center
NOTE: This post will be updated as more information becomes available on this topic.

(World Trade Center Service) |(Ground Zero Participants) - Via USCCB (PDF format).

The Pope will visit the site of the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, offer a blessing and greet representatives of the Port Authority, New York fire and police workers, those who survived the attacks, and family members who lost loved ones in the attack.

  • 9:30 a.m. - The Pope arrives via motorcade. A welcome by Cardinal Edward M. Egan.


  • The motorcade travels down the ramp. The Pope and Cardinal Edward M. Egan leave the limousine and walk the remaining route alone
  • The Pope kneels before a pool of water and candle, offering a silent prayer
  • The Pope lights the candle, offers a prayer and blesses the ground and the guests with holy water
  • Guests approach the Pope individually for a brief exchange

Here is the text of Pope Benedict XVI's prayer at Ground Zero:

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives
with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.

Sewell Chan reports from New York Times' "City Room":

Pope Benedict XVI knelt and prayed at ground zero in Lower Manhattan this morning, blessing the site where more than 2,600 people were killed in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center more than six years ago. The pontiff offered a prayer to God for peace, mentioning the attacks on 9/11 on the Pentagon in Washington and on a jetliner that crashed near Shanksville, Pa. He made only one, indirect, reference to terror: “Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred.” The pope made no other public remarks during his half-hour visit to the site, but offered private words of comfort to survivors who were injured and relatives of victims who were killed in the attacks.

Gov. David A. Paterson and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York were already at ground zero when the pope arrived at 9:31 a.m., as was Gov. Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey.

The visit has particular significance for survivors of 9/11, and relatives of victims who died in the World Trade Center, many of them from Roman Catholic backgrounds. The Rev. Mychal F. Judge, a beloved Catholic chaplain for the Fire Department who died from falling debris on 9/11 and was listed as victim No. 1 by the city chief medical examiner’s office, has become a larger-than-life figure for some.

Pope John Paul II, Benedict’s predecessor, condemned the 9/11 attacks as an “unspeakable horror” on the day they occurred.


The service was held at the bottom of the giant construction ramp that goes into the construction site for the new towers rising at ground zero. (Construction has been suspended for the papal visit.)

At 9:43 a.m., the pope knelt on a prie-dieu before a pool of water and a candle, praying silently for about two minutes. Then, with assistance from two clerical aides, he lighted a candle — apparently with a little bit of difficulty at first, perhaps because of technical problems.


Following [his] prayer, the pope used an aspergillum to sprinkle holy water in four directions, blessing the site. Then guests approached the pope individually for brief private exchanges; many of them knelt briefly before the pontiff and kissed his ring. One representative each from the families of 16 people who died in the World Trade Center attack were selected — from among more than 1,100 applicants — for a chance to be present and meet him.