Photo Credit: "Christ our Hope"
The Pope's visit to USA is only a minor news item in Japan, where Catholics are a negligible minority, numbering just a few hundred thousands. So here let me introduce a few sites for those who may be interested in the Pope's visit to USA. Perhaps the best coverage is by the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) site: Christ our hope: Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Journey to the United States 2008. This whole site is dedicated to the Pope's US visit and gives many articles, the Pope's timetable, and many photos. There are also video clips, and the texts of all his speeches/addresses.
For Pope Benedict's major homilies and religious discourses since his election, go here.
Here's an interesting article on Notable moments in meetings of presidents and popes by Jennifer Loven. As suggested by the title, this article highlights the major meetings of the US Presidents and the Popes since the time of John Kennedy.
Here is an old address given on May 20, 2005, by George Bush, the US President, at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, which may be relevant to recall. The President here honors Catholic contributions to USA. The following paragraphs may be indicative of the jovial and serious nature of the address:
The Catholic contribution to American freedom goes back to the founding of our country. In 1790, a newly inaugurated George Washington -- the first George W. -- (laughter and applause) -- addressed a letter to all Catholics in America. He assured them that "your fellow citizens will not forget the patriotic part which you took in the accomplishment of their revolution." I'm honored to stand before you to offer my gratitude for the work American Catholic sons and daughters are doing for our nation. This work includes the incredible acts of compassion through our faith-based institutions that help Americans in need, especially the Catholic schools that educate millions of our fellow citizens and deliver hope to inner-city children of all faiths. (Applause.)
When the French writer, de Tocqueville, visited these shores back in the 1830s, he noted that the most democratic country in the world was also the one where the Catholic religion was making the most progress. He called Catholics the most faithful believers in our land, yet also the most independent of citizens. (Laughter.) As I've learned from dealing with Senator Santorum. (Laughter and applause.)
Catholics have made sacrifices throughout American history because they understand that freedom is a divine gift that carries with it serious responsibilities. Among the greatest of these responsibilities is protecting the most vulnerable members of our society. That was the message that Pope John Paul II proclaimed so tirelessly throughout his own life, and it explains the remarkable outpouring of love for His Holiness at the funeral mass that Laura and I were privileged to attend in Rome.
See also the various Catholic News resources in the right column of links and feeds.
The article "A Catholic Wind in the White House" by Daniel Burke was published in the Washington Post on April 13, 2008, and reprinted in an English newspaper from Japan. This is the article that speaks of Bush's Catholic leanings:
As the White House prepares to welcome Benedict on Tuesday, many in Bush's inner circle expect the pontiff to find a kindred spirit in the president. Because if Bill Clinton can be called America's first black president, some say, then George W. Bush could well be the nation's first Catholic president.
This isn't as strange a notion as it sounds. Yes, there was John F. Kennedy. But where Kennedy sought to divorce his religion from his office, Bush has welcomed Roman Catholic doctrine and teachings into the White House and based many important domestic policy decisions on them.