The Pope will be accompanied at Ground Zero by Cardinal Edward Egan of New York.
VATICAN CITY (Zenit) - Benedict XVI's time of prayer at Ground Zero will be among "the most emotional and eagerly awaited moments" of his upcoming trip to the United States, says a Vatican spokesman.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, told journalists that television channels from various continents have expressed their interest in being present at this moment commemorating the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
International interest has affected scheduling for the visit, Father Lombardi explained, saying that the stop at Ground Zero will take place Sunday morning, April 20, "since in that way, Europe can also follow along, due to the interest this has stirred up."
The Pope will be accompanied at Ground Zero by Cardinal Edward Egan of New York. Plans call for him to kneel for a few moments of private, silent prayer. He will then be escorted by the cardinal 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 Holy Father will then offer a blessing to the invited guests.
"The Pope will not give an address," Father Lombardi affirmed. "It is an event of prayer, recollection and respect for the drama, the tragedy that happened in this place.
"The Pope will not multiply words. He goes and he prays."
Afterward, Benedict XVI will salute the mayor of the city and other local authorities, as well as 24 people who represent five categories of those affected by the 9/11 attacks: survivors, family of the victims, and representatives of the police, firemen and civil security.
"It will be a simple and intense event," Father Lombardi continued. "It is foreseen to last a half hour and it will have, obviously, an immense meaning of a spiritual and symbolic character."
The visit to the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York indicates the Pontiff'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 Holy Father's six-day trip to the United States. Later in the day, he will celebrate Mass for more than 60,000 people in Yankee Stadium and then depart from JFK Airport.
Benedict XVI's April 15-20 trip to the United States, his first as Pontiff, will include two important anniversaries. April 16th is the Holy Father's 81st birthday. And April 19 marks the third anniversary of his election to succeed Pope John Paul II.
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