Pope Benedict touches down in the United States
Washington DC, Apr 15, 2008 / 03:52 pm (CNA).- Shepherd One landed right on time this afternoon, bringing Pope Benedict XVI to the United States for the first time. President Bush, Laura Bush and their daughter Jenna paid Pope Benedict the honor of meeting him at the airport—the first time Bush has done so for a head of state.
The Pontiff was greeted by an honor guard of military servicemen and a crowd of 5,000 military family members.
After waving to the crowd, the Pope was transported via motorcade to the house of the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi. Normally, President Bush takes Marine One to the Andrews Air Force Base, but due to the scale of the preparations for tomorrow’s record crowd of 12,000 people at the White House using the helicopter became impossible. Pope Benedict will reside at the Apostolic Nunciature while in Washington and will make his first public remarks on Wednesday morning at the White House at 10:30 EST.
“It is a great suffering for the Church in the United States and for the Church in general and for me personally that this could happen,” Benedict said. “It is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betray in this way their mission … to these children.
I am deeply ashamed and we will do what is possible so this cannot happen again in the future,” the pope said.
Benedict XVI also said he was determined to prevent pedophiles from becoming priests in the Roman Catholic Church.
“We will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry,” Benedict said in English. “It is more important to have good priests than many priests. We will do everything possible to heal this wound.” Pedophilia is “absolutely incompatible” with the priesthood,” Benedict said.
– Pope promises to “do everything possible” to heal scandal of sex abuse
Aboard the papal plane, Apr 15, 2008 – Catholic News Agency [CNA]
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