CHARLESTON – Pope Benedict XVI began his first visit to the United States this week and in a letter to South Carolina Catholics, Msgr. Martin T. Laughlin, administrator of the Diocese of Charleston, welcomed the pope’s trip as an opportunity for a reasoned dialogue on the issues facing the country and its culture.
“The principles of faith and reason are the principles on which our country was founded and the ones that will guide it through periods of turmoil. Pope Benedict is a man of enormous faith and impressive reason. He has the opportunity to bring to the discussion principles from both realms instead of merely one or the other,” Msgr. Laughlin wrote.
The Pope’s itinerary included a formal greeting on the South Lawn of the White House on April 15, his birthday. This is only the second time in history that a pope has visited the White House. Additional events include public Masses in D.C. and New York, an address at the United Nations, a visit to Ground Zero and a meeting with representatives of other religions.
“Indeed, Pope Benedict comes to this country to proclaim the greatest truth: Jesus Christ is the only hope for men and women of every language, race, culture and social condition. Pope Benedict, our Holy Father, comes to our country with great concern for the young, the sick, the elderly, and for those most in need. Pope Benedict comes with an open and compassionate heart in the likeness of the divine Heart of Jesus.” Msgr. Laughlin said in his letter.
“Since his acceptance of the awesome office of the Chair of Peter, Pope Benedict has made himself known by his written word: the contemplative work Jesus of Nazareth; his first encyclical letter God is Love; the encyclical letter, On Christian Hope; and his insightful book concerning the Liturgy,” said Msgr. Laughlin.
“We know one another by and through our words and daily actions. Pope Benedict comes as Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter. As the Successor of Peter Pope Benedict is the source and foundation of unity of both bishops and the whole company of the faithful. In Pope Benedict we have a teaching Pope.
“We have a true shepherd of the Church; a true Servant of the servants of God; a Shepherd who is not afraid to lead and to correct. Good teachers are always ready, in charity, to correct that truth may prevail. Let us welcome Pope Benedict with our prayers but let us also welcome him by being attentive to his teaching and words of instruction. Pope Benedict brings the message of Christ. A message of hope and salvation for all who have heart and mind open to the eternal Truth.”
The www.uspapalvisit.org Web page is a source of information for the general public as well as for media covering the event. The site provides links to various venues of the visit, background on the pope and the church in the United States and offers teaching resources provided by the Archdiocese of Washington.