The Vatican released the itinerary Tuesday for Pope Francis’ first trip to the United States in September, a six-day visit that will take the pontiff from the halls of power to the margins of society.
Francis touches down at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington on the afternoon of Sept. 22, arriving directly from Cuba after a three-day visit there. While in the United States, Francis will address both Congress and the United Nations, but also visit homeless people, immigrant families, and prison inmates. At least one of his public addresses will be given in Spanish, his native tongue.
Francis is due to spend 48 hours in the nation’s capital, where he’ll meet with President Obama at the White House, speak to US bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, canonize Junípero Serra during a Mass in Spanish at the Catholic University of America, deliver an address to a joint session of Congress, and visit the headquarters of Catholic Charities of Washington, where the Vatican said Francis will meet with a group of homeless people. Francis will also visit DC seminarians, according to a statement from Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl.
From there, the pope will fly to New York and lead an evening prayer on Sept. 24 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The following day, Francis will give an address to the United Nations, attend a multi-faith prayer event at the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and visit a Catholic school in East Harlem to meet with a group of immigrants before an evening Mass at Madison Square Garden.
On Saturday, Sept. 26, Francis departs to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. There, he will celebrate Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul and give a talk on religious liberty and meet with immigrants at Independence Hall. The following day, the pope will meet with bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, visit Philadelphia’s largest prison, and celebrate a huge public Mass, with more than 1 million people expected to flood the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Francis departs for Rome from Philadelphia on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 27.
The pope’s arrival to the United States from Cuba sends something of a diplomatic message to leaders of the two nations. Last year, Francis was credited by Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro with helping to broker talks that may lead to the restoration of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba for the first time in decades.
Francis arrives in Cuba on Sept. 19, and will celebrate a public Mass the following day in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución before meeting with Castro and then giving an address to young people that evening. From there, Francis will travel to Holguín and Santiago, where he will also celebrate public Masses and meet with a group of families.
This will be the pope’s first visit to the United States, and websites have been set up to distribute information about his stops in DC, New York, and Philadelphia. While details about how to see the pope haven’t been released, the Vatican does not charge for admission to public events, and scammers routinely try to sell tickets that do not exist, Church leaders have warned.
Francis is expected to speak on a number of hot-button issues while in the United States, including immigration, poverty, and the environment. He will draw from his encyclical Laudato si’, in which he wrote that climate change is real and caused primarily by human activity, during his talk at the United Nations.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said in a statement Tuesday that the pope’s “relatively brief” visit there will “offer an example to the entire world of how people of different faiths can not only live together in peace and harmony, but also come together in a spirit of mutual cooperation and respect for one another.”
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said in a statement, “The presence of the Holy Father will be electric and charismatic. It has the power to transform all of us in deeply positive ways.” He suggested that Francis will speak about religious freedom and said the itinerary is comprised of “powerful public moments with more intimate gatherings that are deeply grace-filled.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner called the pope’s visit to Congress “unprecedented.”
“This will be a historic visit, and given the large public interest in Pope Francis, the US Congress is making the appropriate preparations to reflect the magnitude of his visit to the Capitol and ensure his message can be heard by all Americans,” he said in a statement.
TUESDAY, SEPT. 22 (Washington, DC)
- 4 p.m. Arrive from Cuba at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 23 (Washington, DC)
- 9:15 a.m. Meet with President Barack Obama at the White House
- 11:30 a.m. Hold a midday prayer with the bishops of the United States at St. Matthew’s Cathedral
- 4:15 p.m. Celebrate a Mass of canonization of Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
THURSDAY, SEPT. 24 (Washington, DC, and New York City)
- 9:20 a.m. Address a joint meeting of the US Congress
- 11:15 a.m. Visit St. Patrick in the City and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington
- 4 p.m. Depart from Joint Base Andrews
- 5 p.m. Arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York
- 6:45 p.m. Hold an evening prayer (Vespers) at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
FRIDAY, SEPT. 25 (New York City)
- 8:30 a.m. Visit the United Nations and give an address to the United Nations General Assembly
- 11:30 a.m. Hold a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center
- 4 p.m. Visit Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem
- 6 p.m. Celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden
SATURDAY, SEPT. 26 (New York City and Philadelphia)
- 8:40 a.m. Depart from John F. Kennedy International Airport
- 9:30 a.m. Arrive at Atlantic Aviation in Philadelphia
- 10:30 a.m. Celebrate Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia
- 4:45 p.m. Visit Independence Mall
- 7:30 p.m. Visit the Festival of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
SUNDAY, SEPT. 27 (Philadelphia)
- 9:15 a.m. Meet with bishops at St. Martin’s Chapel at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
- 11 a.m. Visit the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility
- 4 p.m. Celebrate Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
- 7 p.m. Visit with organizers, volunteers, and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families at Atlantic Aviation
- 8 p.m. Depart for Rome