Pope Benedict begins trip to USA


 At midday today, the Holy Father departed from Rome's Fiumicino airport. Following a flight of more than 7,000 kilometres, his plane is due to land at 4 pm local time (10pm in Rome) at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington DC. This is the Benedict XVI's eighth apostolic trip outside Italy and his first to the U.S.A. as Pope. US President George W Bush and his wife Nancy will welcome the Pope as he descends from his aircraft. No speeches are scheduled for this first meeting and the welcome ceremony proper will take place tomorrow at 10.30am local time (4.30pm in Rome) at the White House, official residence of the US president. After landing, Benedict XVI will travel by car to the apostolic nunciature in Washington D.C where he will spend the rest of the day. Tomorrow, 16 April, is the Pope's 81st birthday, and Saturday 19 April, will mark the third anniversary of his election to the pontifical throne. Source: VIS

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