|Pope to Pray at Ground Zero|
WASHINGTON—During his visit to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI will pray at Ground Zero, which has become the national civic shrine memorializing those who died in 2001 on 9/11.
In what will be a stark, near silent event, on the morning of April 20, the pope will descend by vehicle to the "bedrock" of Ground Zero, accompanied by Cardinal Edward Egan of New York. He will walk to the carpeted area where a small number of the invited guests will be assembled.
Plans call for the pope to kneel for a few moments of private, silent prayer. He will then be escorted by Cardinal Egan to a pool of water and exposed earth in the center of the carpet, where he will light a candle, offer a prayer, and sprinkle the ground with holy water. The pope will then offer a blessing to the invited guests.
Following the blessing, the pope will be introduced to the approximately 20 invited guests, representing the victims, first responders, survivors of the attack, and government officials.
The visit to the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York indicates the pope's sense of "solidarity with those who have died, with their families and with all those who wish an end of violence and in the search of peace," said Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Vatican ambassador to the United States when he announced the pope's visit last November.
The Sunday morning visit is the first event on the last day of the pope's six-day trip to the United States. Later in the day the pope will celebrate Mass for more than 60,000 people in Yankee Stadium and then depart from JFK Airport.
April 19 marks the third anniversary of Pope Benedict's election to succeed Pope John Paul II, who died in April 2005.