JFK International Airport Welcomes the Pope

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By Steve Coleman, Acting Director, Media Relations

There’s always been something mystical about the Pope.  He’s not a rock star, but the public – Catholics and non-Catholics alike – treat him with rock star reverence.  He draws crowds and excitement typically reserved for presidential visits.

This week, the Archdiocese of New York released Pope Francis’ complete itinerary for his 2015 papal visit to the United States, which includes 36 action-packed hours in the city.  Aside from a visit to the World Trade Center site and the completed 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Pope also will say Mass at Madison Square Garden, participate in evening prayers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and pay a visit to a Harlem school.

When he sets foot in New York at 5 p.m. on September 24 at JFK Airport, it will spark a frenzy not seen here since April 2008, when Pope Benedict visited the city to pay his respects at the World Trade Center site (which was still a vacant pit at that time) and to say Mass at Yankee Stadium.

In 1965, when Pope Paul VI made a one-day visit to the United States, he became the first pontiff ever to visit the Western Hemisphere.  His 14-hour day was confined entirely to NYC.

Pope Francis’ upcoming visit will be the sixth official papal visit to the United States since the United States established full diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 1984.  The late Pope John Paul II made four visits here – in 1987, 1993, 1995 and 1999 – before Pope Benedict’s trip in 2008.

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