SHAFAQNA – Pope Francis’ first visit to New York City, announced this week, will most likely last only a day, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, wrote on his blog Tuesday.
A papal address at the United Nations, timed to coincide with the opening of a United Nations summit meeting on sustainable development, will be the cornerstone of the pope’s whirlwind trip to the city in late September, Cardinal Dolan wrote.
Also almost certainly on Francis’ agenda, according to church officials: a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the imposing Gothic edifice on Fifth Avenue that is midway through a $180 million restoration.
The Vatican will decide the pope’s exact itinerary by around March 1, Cardinal Dolan added.
“I have assured him of a warm welcome!” Cardinal Dolan wrote, reacting to the news.
On Monday, Francis told reporters on his plane from the Philippines that Washington, New York and Philadelphia would definitely be stops on his trip to America, scheduled for Sept. 22 to 27.
In Washington, he has been invited by both the House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, and the minority leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, to become the first pope to address a joint session of Congress.
While that speech has not yet been confirmed, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican’s representative to the United Nations and a member of the trip’s organizing committee, told the Catholic News Agency on Sunday that it would very likely occur.
Archbishop Auza also told the news agency that in New York, ground zero was being discussed as a stop and a public Mass might be celebrated in Madison Square Garden.