From the CUA Tower:

Pope Benedict XVI will speak in the Pryzbyla Center on April 17. He will also visit the John Paul II Cultural Center and the Basilica.

His address will follow a meeting at the White House, Mass at the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception with all U.S. Bishops and a public Mass at the new Washington Nationals Stadium in southeast Washington, D.C.

The pope, who was born Joseph Ratzinger in 1927, will speak in the Pryzbyla Great Room in front of an audience of educational representatives and specialists from every diocese in the United States. At this time the exact number of representatives is unavailable. Presidents from every Catholic university will also be invited. There is no information available on whether or not students will be invited.

Benedict will meet leaders from many faiths at the John Paul II Cultural Center, hold mass at the Nationals Stadium on the banks of the Anacostia River and speak at the University on the same day.

Rev. David O’Connell, president of the University, is convening a committee to deal with the logistics of the papal visit. All final decisions regarding the visit will be made by O’Connell, according to Victor Nakas, associate vice president for Public Affairs.

Benedict will arrive in the District on the afternoon of April 15 for his first visit to the United States since becoming pope in 2005. As a head of state, Benedict will be escorted by Secret Service agents as well as his personal security detail. Students should not expect a visit similar to John Paul II’s 1979 trip, when the Holy See came face to face with groups of students and shook their hands. In 1981, a gunman attempted to assassinate John Paul II, leading to increased security measures. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 also contributed to security increases surrounding the pope.

Students may not be invited to the Pryzbla Center address, as the Great Room holds a maximum of about 1,000 people and interest in attending the event will likely be high.

The Mass at Nationals Stadium is a public event. Tickets to the public will be available for free to several area dioceses. Information on how to obtain them is not available at this point.

Archbishop of Washington Donald W. Wuerl called the visit “a grace-filled blessing for the Church of Washington” on the website of the archdioceses.

“The eyes of the world are going to be on the pope’s every move,” added Nakas. While the pope is at the University, the eyes of the world will also be on the campus.

The University is not in session on the day of the visit.

O’Connell was not available for comment on the visit. Public Affairs said he will release a letter with more details about the visit at a later date.

WAC

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