Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd after celebrating a holy mass at the Yankee Stadium New York where 57,000 people attend (Photo: Reuters/ Mike Segar)

Pope Benedict addressed the United Nations' General Assembly Friday as part of his first visit to the United States as head of the Roman Catholic Church.

He commended the work of the international body, calling it "vital," but he said that nations need to work together to solve crises, rather than act unilaterally.

President George Bush accompanied by First Lady Laura Bush welcome Pope Benedict XVI at St. Andrews Air Force Base on Wednesday, 16 April 2008 (Photo: AP/ L'osservatore Romano)

Nancy Pelosi, US House Speaker, kisses pope rings at White House arrival ceremony while President Bush and Secretary of State Rice look on. Kissing pope or bishop ring is one of catholics traditions symbolising their obedience to their pope or bishop. (Photo: AP/ Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Pope Benedict XVI adresses United Nations General Assemby in New York Friday 18 April 2008 (Photo: AP/ Richard Drew)

"Multilateral consensus continues to be in crisis because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a small number," he said, speaking in French.

"The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and increasing security."

This is only the third time that a visiting pope has addressed the UN. The pontiff's arrival at the UN was greeted by several hundred supporters, many of them Hispanic, behind police barricades. There was also a small anti-pope demonstration by a group calling itself the Forum for Protection of Religious Pluralism. That group had a number of complaints about the Vatican, including increased conversions to Catholicism in India and the church's impact on Native Americans during the colonization of the U.S.

The pontiff has a busy schedule in New York. His agenda includes a visit to Ground Zero, a mass at Yankee Stadium, a visit to a synagogue and a meeting with leaders of other Christian denominations.

He also lead mass for priests, deacons and other clergy at Manhattan's St. Patrick's Cathedral. ABC's Viviana Hurtado told CTV's Canada AM on Friday that the Pope has clearly been trying to reach out to Catholics in the United States.

"The main goal has been to really re-energize and renew the American Catholic Church and to do that by spreading a message of hope," Hurtado said.

Pope Addresses Abuse

The Pope has also taken the opportunity during his visit to try and repair the damage done by the sexual abuse scandal that has engulfed the Church in the U.S. The pontiff has paid considerable attention to the scandal, including acknowledging the suffering of victims during a mass for 45,000 people at Washington's Nationals Park baseball stadium.

On Thursday, he prayed with abuse victims from Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley's archdiocese. Papal spokesperson, the Rev. Federico Lombardi said that Benedict and O'Malley met with a group of five or six abuse victims. The group who met with the pope were all adults, who had been molested when they were minors.
One of the victims, Bernie McDaid, told The Associated Press that he told the pope that when he was an alter boy, he was abused by a priest in his parish. He said the abuse was not just sexual, but spiritual.

"I said, 'Holy Father, you need to know you have a cancer in your flock and I hope you will do something for this problem; you have to fix this,'" McDaid said. "He looked down at the floor and back at me, like, 'I know what you mean.' He took it in emotionally. We looked eye to eye."
Hurtado said that the Pope's efforts to make peace with American Catholics over the abuse scandal is the key to reviving the religion in the country.

"This scandal has really shaken the American Catholic church to its core over the last several years and certainly turned off wayward Catholics, Catholics that are on the fence, and it's actually bankrupted some diocese," she said.

The Pope has also acknowledged the Church's strong roots in the American Latino community -- as well as its strength across Latin America -- as he addressed Washington mass attendees in Spanish for several minutes. News Staff

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