NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — It’s official.
Speaking on his flight back to Rome from the Philippines on Monday, the pope confirmed that in addition to visiting Philadelphia, he will also travel to New York City and Washington, D.C., in September.
Francis said he planned to canonize the 17th-century missionary Junipero Serra, who established nine missions in California, during the Washington leg of the U.S. trip, likely at the National Shrine.
Francis is also expected to visit the White House and address Congress, then speak at the United Nations in New York, and participate in the World Meeting of Families conference, which is being held Sept. 25-27 in Philadelphia.
He will be in New York from Sept. 24-26.
“New York City will be excited and delighted to host Pope Francis during his visit to the United States this September,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. ” … The Pope should know New York will welcome him with open arms. Pope Francis is the leading global voice on issues of social justice and income inequality, and New Yorkers from all backgrounds will be tremendously humbled and honored to hear his message right here in our city later this year.”
Added City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito: “New Yorkers of all faiths are thrilled that Pope Francis has confirmed he will be visiting New York City in September. Pope Francis has made fighting poverty and expanding social justice a crux of his papacy and I am excited that he will be bringing this message to New York City this fall.”
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, the Vatican flag was flying in New York City Monday night and there was already excitement over the papal visit.
“Well I think it’s wonderful that he’s coming, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to see him,” said Alexandra Marie.
“I would be so happy to see him,” Maggie Settepani, of Long Island, told CBS2’s Valerie Castro. “He’s a wonderful, wonderful pope. Great thing for the Catholic Church.”
“I think it’s great whenever the pope comes to visit the United States,” said Tim Scully, of Monroe. “He’s a great representative of peace.”
Others said it’s an honor as a Catholic to be able to see a pope in person.
“I was in Italy years ago and saw Pope John Paul II, and to me, it was just seeing greatness,” said Tracey Smeragliuolo, of Nutley, New Jersey. “So to be able to see greatness a second time would just be awesome.”
As for what issues Pope Francis might speak to, there’s hope he will address the younger generation.
“I’m 40, so I’m hoping he’ll speak to the younger people so that they can follow in his ways,” Smeragliuolo said.
The Rev. Luke Sweeney, vice rector of the Cathedral Seminary House of Formation, said the visit will be a shot in the arm for U.S. Catholics.
“I think anytime a pope comes to visit, certainly, we think of him as inspiring us in faith, in hope, and in charity,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney said the expected address to world leaders at the UN will provide a platform for the pope’s message of charity and social justice.
“And how he acts to the human person and the poor is something that has captivated human hearts,” Sweeney said.
The Catholic News Agency reported earlier Monday that Francis may also visit the World Trade Center site, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden.
Bronze plaques near the front door of St. Patrick’s Cathedral commemorate past visits from popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.
Francis said he would have loved to have entered the U.S. via the Mexican border, saying it would have been a “beautiful thing, as a sign of brotherhood and of help to the immigrants.”
“But you know that going to Mexico without going to visit the Madonna (of Guadalupe) would be a drama. A war could break out!” he said, laughing. He said a Mexico visit would come in the future.
This will be Francis’ first visit to the U.S. as pope. He will be the fourth pope to visit New York.
Francis also said he hopes to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay this year, as well as the Central African Republic and Uganda.
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