Pope Benedict XVI, who has praised the United States for its religious freedom but rued its increasing secularization, arrives this week for a six-day, two-city visit in which he will introduce himself to a nation enamored of his predecessor but largely unsure what to make of the new pontiff.
He will discuss public policy at the White House and the United Nations, will preach the Gospel at Yankee Stadium and Nationals Park, will roll through the streets of Washington and New York in his bulletproof Mercedes-Benz popemobile, and will kneel in silent prayer at ground zero.
But mostly, he will offer Americans and, in particular, American Catholics, a chance to take the measure of this spiritual leader, who despite three years in office remains a relative unknown. Those who follow him closely, eager to find quirks of humanity in this stern-seeming man, have fixed on a handful of colorful details - his fondness for cats, his skill at the piano, the fluffy fur-trimmed hat, and the striking red loafers that may or may not have been styled by Prada. He is dogged by his reputation as a doctrinaire hatchet man for John Paul II, but most often described by those closest to him as a brilliant and prolific theologian seeking to inspire, not chastise, his large but troubled flock.
As for a visit to Massachusetts, it is not going to happen:
Benedict also conspicuously decided not to visit Boston, the epicenter of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, despite repeated invitations from O'Malley. The pope apparently did not want the abuse issue to overshadow his trip, but he is expected to mention the issue, and possibly to meet with victims, during his time in the United States. He also plans to acknowledge the bicentennial of the Boston Archdiocese, as well as several other dioceses, during the Yankee Stadium Mass. - Boston Globe