Bush to Welcome Benedict XVI at Airport
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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- President George Bush will greet Benedict XVI when the Pope arrives for a six-day visit to the United States that will take him to Washington, D.C., and New York City, report the U.S. bishops.
The episcopal conference affirmed in a press statement that the Pope is scheduled to arrive April 15 at Andrews Air Force Base on an Alitalia flight dubbed “Shepherd One.” Accompanying him in the plane will be several Vatican officials and more that 60 members of the Vatican press corps.
First Lady Laura Bush will also be present at the welcoming ceremony, as well as several Church officials including Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Vatican nuncio to the United States; Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. episcopal conference; Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., and Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services.
The color guard will offer its customary greeting for a head of state, but the ceremony will be brief and without speeches.
Formal greetings will be offered the next morning when the Holy Father visits President Bush at the White House. It will be only the second time a Pontiff has visited the official residence of the U.S. president. Pope John Paul II visited in 1979.
Several hundred guests will also be on hand. Among them will be military families and young people from several Catholic high schools. Before the Benedict XVI's arrival, the U.S. Air Force Band will provide entertainment for the public.
Further information regarding the Holy Father’s April 15-20 trip to the United States and the United Nations can be found at www.uspapalvisit.org.