Shepherd One is now airborne, taking Pope Benedict XVI on a 7 1/2 hour flight back to the Vatican.
About 3,000 people, many of them immigrants from around the world, gathered at JFK Aiport in New York to see the pope off.
Vice President Dick Cheney paid tribute to the pope and American Catholics.
"Pope Benedict XVI has stepped into the history of our country in a special way,'' Cheney said.
The pope, in his remarks, reflected on the highlights of his trip, and wished America well.
"These days that I have spent in the United States have been blessed with many memorable experiences of American hospitality, and I wish to express my deep appreciation to all of you for your kind welcome,'' he said. "It has been a joy for me to witness the faith and devotion of the Catholic community here.''
This will be the final dispatch of this pope-visit blog. Thank you for reading, and feel free to send comments to Michael Paulson, the Globe's religion writer. And you can find all of our coverage, including video, here.
Pasted below is the full text of the pope's remarks at the JFK Airport farewell ceremony. Click on "full entry" to read the remarks.FULL ENTRY
In Pope Benedict XVI's final homily of this six-day trip to the US, he paid tribute to the 67-million member Catholic Church in the US, which, for all its troubles, remains one of the most vibrant and important in the world.
"Our celebration today is also a sign of the impressive growth which God has given to the church in your country in the past two hundred years,'' Benedict said, while celebrating Mass for 57,000 at Yankee Stadium. "From a small flock like that described in the first reading, the church in America has been built up in fidelity to the twin commandment of love of God and love of neighbor. In this land of freedom and opportunity, the church has united a widely diverse flock in the profession of the faith and, through her many educational, charitable and social works, has also contributed significantly to the growth of American society as a whole."
Benedict repeatedly acknowledged the bicentennials of five American archdioceses, including Boston, during the Mass, and Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston concelebrated the Mass in recognition of the anniversary.
"Today we recall the bicentennial of a watershed in the history of the church in the United States: its first great chapter of growth,'' Benedict said. "In these two hundred years, the face of the Catholic community in your country has changed greatly. We think of the successive waves of immigrants whose traditions have so enriched the church in America. We think of the strong faith which built up the network of churches, educational, healthcare and social institutions which have long been the hallmark of the church in this land. We think also of those countless fathers and mothers who passed on the faith to their children, the steady ministry of the many priests who devoted their lives to the care of souls, and the incalculable contribution made by so many men and women religious, who not only taught generations of children how to read and write, but also inspired in them a lifelong desire to know God, to love him and to serve him."
Although the day had been heavily overcast, the sun broke through during the Mass, and the boisterous crowd was silent throughout the homily, which was interrupted only by the rumble of passing subways.
The pope twice alluded to the church's opposition to abortion, placing it in the context of its charitable works, saying "the Catholic community in this nation has been outstanding in its prophetic witness in the defense of life, in the education of the young, in care for the poor, the sick and the stranger in your midst.'' And then, talking about the importance of "unchanging truths" of Christian faith, he said, "they are the truths which alone can guarantee respect for the inalienable dignity and rights of each man, woman and child in our world -- including the most defenseless of all human beings, the unborn child in the mother's womb." The first time the homily was interrupted by applause was when the pope mentioned "the unborn child.''
When the pope finished the homily, the crowd shouted "Viva!" and "Benedetto!" He responded by waving before turning to the profession of faith and the remainder of the Mass. The prayers of the faithful were said in English, Italian, Polish, French, Tagalog, Croation and Igbo, and the pope read several paragraphs of his homily in Spanish, in recognition of the diversity of the Catholic population in this country.
The Mass was the last major event of the pope's six-day trip to the US. From Yankee Stadium, he is to return to Manhattan and then travel to JFK Airport, where a crowd of 3,250, many of them immigrants, are gathering to see him off on his 8:30 p.m. return flight to Rome.
by Michael Paulson, Globe Staff
All blog posts on the pope's visit are here.
The full text of the pope's homily is below; click on "full entry.''FULL ENTRY
Globe reporter Tania deLuzuriaga is embedded with the Boston pilgrims at Yankee Stadium; she was barred from bringing a laptop inside but banged out this dispatch on her BlackBerry:
Mass is about to start here in Yankee Stadium and there's an aura of anticipation in the air.
The bishops are filing in and most everyone is seated.
We arrived just before noon, after waiting in the security line for 40 minutes. Chaos ensued as people looking for their seats converged with those looking for the bathroom or a snack. Yes, while it was prohibited to bring food, among other things, into the stadium, the concessions are in full operation, a prospect that may enable some to celebrate their first Mass while eating popcorn.
The seats for the Archdiocese of Boston are located in an upper tier of the park, but right behind home plate.
"They're great seats," said Tim Higgins of Easton, who is attending the Mass with his wife and two children. "The archdiocese really took care of us."
The crowd is tremendously diverse. Knights of Columbus in feathered chapeaus and satin capes wander by girls in tight jeans and flip flops. And senior citizens in their Sunday best rub elbows with priests in black cassocks and men in Yankees windbreakers.
"It's all different people, and all different languages," said Philomene Pean, a Haitian immigrant who lives in Everett. "It's amazing."
By Tania deLuzuriaga, Globe Staff
To read all of our dispatches about the papal trip, click here.
For the third time in history, a pope today will celebrate Mass at Yankee Stadium, and the crowd is huge and exuberant.
The crowd of 57,000, many of whom have been here since 9 a.m., was entertained by Stephanie Mills, singing songs from "The Wiz" as well as Supremes covers, and Harry Connick Jr., who said that now, when he's asked whether he's a practicing Catholic, he can say, "I can't practice any better than this -- I'm playing for the pope!" After the singing, the perimeter of the field was surrounded by young men and women clad in white, holding aloft giant, fluttering, paper birds. There are also a variety of high school bands and several choirs performing as priests process onto the infield.
The stage set for the liturgy is spectacular -- a diamond of white, yellow, and purple constructed over the infield, with yellow and white ribbons billowing inward toward the pitcher's mound, above which the papal crest is suspended. The flower-bedecked sanctuary rises just above second base; the gold and red seal of Pope Benedict XVI is hanging over a throne from which the pope will preside. The outfield is being unused. It's overcast and in the high 50s here.
Most of the worshipers in the stands got tickets through parishes in New York and four other archdioceses that are marking bicentennials this year, Baltimore, Boston, Louisville, and Philadelphia. The crests of those dioceses are hanging in the stadium, and their archbishops, including Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, will concelebrate the Mass. Those dioceses also got extra allocations of tickets for the Mass, and there are 3,000 Bostonians here.
The stadium is surrounded by security. I came in on a press bus from Manhattan, and as we were escorted by police through the perimeter, we could see that the streets around the stadium are barricaded with orange dumptrucks weighed down with sand. There are heavily armed security personnel outside and inside the stadium. Security closed off the stadium at 1 p.m., and said they wouldn't allow anyone in starting 90 minutes before the Mass.
The crowd is shouting, waving, and screaming as the pope prepares to enter the field in his popemobile, and the Mass will begin shortly.
This is the third papal Mass at Yankee Stadium -- which the Yankees say is a record for any US venue. Pope Paul VI said Mass here in 1965, and Pope John Paul II in 1979 (that was also the year he visited Boston).
By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff
To read all of our dispatches about the papal trip, click here.
Greetings from Yankee Stadium. Your intrepid correspondent was welcomed to the press box by a Yankees official who, upon hearing I worked for the Boston Globe, immediately blurted out, "I'm sorry.'' And then (and I am not making this up) the Yankees press staff handed me a statement on the pope from George Steinbrenner.
Just to show how objective I can be, here's what The Boss has to say: "The visit by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is wonderful for New York, our nation, and indeed the world. His message of brotherhood rings loud and clear. We welcome him to Yankee Stadium with respect, reverence and enthusiasm.''
By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff
To read all of our dispatches about the papal trip, click here.
NEW YORK -- Eighty feet below street level, surrounded by cranes, backhoes, pipes, and jagged rock, Pope Benedict XVI clasped the hands of survivors and relatives of those killed on Sept. 11, 2001, and asked God to "bring peace to our violent world."
Commemorating the dead where the World Trade Center once stood, the 81-year-old pontiff said not a word, save for his prayer for peace. The 30-minute ceremony was as brief as it was stark.
As a thick, cold fog shrouded lower Manhattan, the pope’s bullet-proof Mercedes descended to ground zero, down a ramp lined with the flags of the Vatican, New York City, New York State, New Jersey, and the Port Authority. At the base of the pit, a small crowd was assembled, including 16 relatives of the dead as well as a handful of city and Port Authority police officers and firefighters who had responded to the attacks.
Emerging from his vehicle wearing a white overcoat to stave off the cold, the pope walked into the center of the crowd. Silently, he knelt and prayed at a gold and white kneeler set before a pool of water and gravel. Then he lit a candle emblazoned with the papal seal and spoke his prayer aloud.
"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," he said, in part. "Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred."
After the prayer, the pope sprinkled holy water in four directions, blessing the site. Then Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York introduced the guests to the pope, one by one. They were men and women, with the officers in dress blues. Many knelt and kissed the pope’s ring or clasped his hands and spoke.
"Today was an incredible experience to get to actually talk to the pope and ask him to bless the ground that we’re on, because we lost so many beautiful people that day," said Salvatore Cassano, a New York City firefighter who is now chief of department and was incident commander on Sept. 11.
Casssano, who is 63 and a 39-year veteran of the department, said he kissed the pope’s ring and the pope told him: "God bless you and God bless the department."
"That was really important for us," he said in an interview afterward. "We suffered so many heavy losses, it was nice to get the personal blessing from the pope, directly, for the people that we lost and the people that are still helping to protect the city."
Desiree Gerasimovich of New Jersey, whose sister, Pamela Boyce, was working on the 92d floor of Tower One and was killed in the attack, also met the pope and kissed his ring. She called it a "wonderful moment, a surreal moment."
"I don’t know if you ever find closure, but days like this make it a little bit better," she said afterward. "A lot of people are trying to embrace this new pope, because everybody just knows John Paul, and him coming to this site and being here in New York shows how close he is to the people."
The Archdiocese of New York gave each of the 24 people who met the pope a rough-hewn cross made from steel salvaged from the towers and a white candle emblazoned with a papal seal.
"It was very moving in many ways," said Carter Brey, the principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic, who played Bach suites as the pope entered ground zero. "It was moving to be down there. It was moving to be near the families of the victims. It was a little bit surreal, as well, to be in such close proximity to the pope. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
In addition to the relatives and survivors, cardinal and politicans witnessed the blessing. They included Governors Jon Corzine of New Jersey and David A. Paterson of New York and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York. All seemed moved.
"This was a very important moment for all New Yorkers," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said afterward. "This is sacred ground for New York and of course to have the pope visit it was very, very special for all of us, not just the people of the Catholic faith."
-- by Michael Levenson, Globe Staff.
We'll be blogging all day right here.
To read the full text of the pope's blessing at ground zero, click on "full entry."FULL ENTRY
Globe reporter Tania deLuzuriaga is embedded with a busload of about 40 pilgrims who left Boston early this morning to attend this afternoon's papal Mass at Yankee Stadium. Here's her first dispatch:
HEADING SOUTHWEST ON I-84 -- Some are dozing, others are reading, and the girls from St. Ann parish in Dorchester are singing along with the Von Trapp family “Doe -- a deer, a female deer…” as "The Sound of Music" plays aboard our bus headed for the Bronx.
Two buses chartered by the Catholic Foundation left Boston College High School at 6:30 this morning, loaded down with weary travelers and seemingly enough food to feed most of Yankee Stadium. Before departing, the Rev. Thomas S. Foley, the pastor at St. Ann’s, led the group in a prayer for a safe journey. “May it be a wonderful experience in faith,” he said. Foley, who did not make the trip, left the bus with a shout of “Vive el Papa!”
A congenial atmosphere took root as soon as we boarded the bus, with strangers swapping stories and sharing snacks. The girls from St. Ann’s, many of whom spent the night together at a sleepover, are a bit sleep-deprived and giddy about their big day, which may explain why they spontaneously broke out in the song, “Our God is an Awesome God” complete with the corresponding sign language, about a half-hour into the trip.
“I slept five hours last night,” said Rae-Anna Muise, 13, of Dorchester, who was lying across two seats flipping through a Seventeen magazine with her friend Michelle Olson, 14, sitting on top of her.
While the girls' giggles and singing dominate the back of the bus, it’s much quieter up front where most people are dozing or reading. Clara Garcia has been knitting most of the trip. The 60-year-old Guatemalan immigrant said she’s excited about the prospect of her first papal Mass.
“I didn’t think I had any chance of getting tickets,” said Garcia, who attends St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Jamaica Plain.
But while the mood on the bus is somewhat subdued, many expect that to change once we arrive.
“I think once we get there it’s going to be a different thing,” Garcia said. “I think I’ll feel something very heavy inside that’s going to make me a better person.”
We'll be blogging all day right here.
NEW YORK -- Rusted metal pipes. Backhoes. Cranes. Construction trailers. Buckets of concrete. Very little has been done to dress up ground zero in preparation for Pope Benedict XVI, who is due to arrive here at 9:30 a.m. for a stark and somber prayer service.
A thick, cool fog is hanging over lower Manhattan, shrouding the tops of the skyscrapers. Ground zero is a construction site -- an approximately four-story-deep pit of jumbled rock and concrete, dark, grey puddles, and backhoes. To one side, a small area has been marked with orange cones. A tarp there is covering, for now, a pool of water and raw earth where the pope plans to kneel and pray. He then plans to light a candle and sprinkle holy water on the site.
A group of 20 -- survivors and relatives of people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as well as police and firefighters who responded to the attacks -- will then light candles from the pope’s candle and receive his blessing. No remarks are planned and the staging will bring the pope face to face with the rawness of the tragedy.
This event is the first of two major public events today, the sixth and final day of Pope Benedict XVI's trip the United States. The pope will also say Mass for nearly 60,000 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Benedict then departs for Rome tonight after a departure ceremony at John F. Kennedy International airport.
The Globe has four journalists covering the pope today. Michael Levenson is at ground zero, Michael Paulson is at Yankee Stadium. And we've embedded reporter Tania deLuzuriaga and photographer Dominic Chavez on a bus with some of the 3,000 pilgrims from Boston heading to the stadium Mass; Tania is going to attempt our first Blackberry blogging, since it sounds like she's going to be barred from carrying a laptop into the stadium. This item was written by Levenson. We'll be blogging all day right here.
Pope Benedict XVI has wrapped up a boisterous rally with 25,000 seminarians and young people at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, and is now heading back into New York City, where he will spend the night at the Upper East Side residence of his ambassador to the UN.
On Sunday, the final day of his six-day trip to the US, he is planning to pray at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, and then to celebrate Mass for 57,000, including 3,000 Bostonians, at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston will be a concelebrant of the Mass, in recognition of the fact that this year marks the bicentennial of the Archdiocese of Boston.
And then, at about 8 p.m., before a crowd of about 3,000, Benedict is to board Shepherd One at JFK airport for the long flight back to Rome.
Below is the full text of the pope's address at Dunwoodie, as the seminary is often called because of the section of Yonkers in which it is located. To read the text, click on "full entry.''
posted by Michael Paulson, Globe Staff
For all the blog posts on the papal visit, go here.
Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley grew emotional today as he recounted to reporters the dramatic and unprecedented meeting earlier this week between Pope Benedict XVI and five people from Boston who had been sexually abused by priests.
Asked how difficult the meeting was for him personally, O’Malley paused for a long moment and appeared to tear up.
“Just seeing the book makes a great impact,” he said, referring to a handmade book he gave the pontiff listing the names of nearly 1,500 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston. As the pope slowly turned the pages, the cardinal mentioned that some of the victims died from suicide or drug abuse.
“I know the Holy Father was touched by it as well,” he said, speaking at a news conference at Boston College’s Silvio O. Conte Forum where the Boston Catholic Men’s Conference was held today.
By Tania deLuzuriaga, Globe StaffFULL ENTRY
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