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Newsday, Melville, N.Y. – April 11, 2008
Apr. 11–Pedophile priests, Darfur, Iraq, global warming, poverty and a decline in the number of Catholics in the United States are all burning issues Pope Benedict XVI could address during his visit to the United Nations next week, his UN representative said yesterday.
But, said Archbishop Celestino Migliore, time will permit only a few of them to be touched on during the pontiff’s visit on April 18.
“He will have 20 or 25 minutes,” Migliore said at a briefing in the UN’s Dag Hammarskj”ld Library auditorium. “He can’t deal with all of the issues of the world. I do not think he will have time to address all of these.”
Besides, he said, Pope Benedict XVI has been addressing those issues, one by one, in his weekly sermons from Rome.
Just recently, the pope expressed a disdain for the ongoing fighting and killing of civilians in Iraq, where violence has claimed the lives of two priests in recent weeks.
“Enough with the slaughters,” the pope said during his Palm Sunday address March 16 in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, three days after Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was found dead in Mosul. “Enough with the violence. Enough with the hatred in Iraq.”
Journalists at the United Nations directed questions about the pope’s goals, logistics and itinerary to Migliore, the apostolic nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; Peter Steinfels, professor at Fordham University and co-director of the school’s Center on Religion and Culture; and Dorothy Farley, executive director of the International Catholic Organizations Information Center.
In response to a question about why the pope’s schedule does not include Boston, the diocese from which the pedophile priest scandal erupted, Migliore said the pope has been addressing and would continue to address the issue. But Migliore said the emphasis will be on putting the pain behind the church and its adherents.
“Let’s go ahead,” he said. “Let’s build something. Let’s heal. That’s not to say he won’t address this issue. He will touch on this issue, of course … but let’s put it in perspective and let’s approach it in a positive way, a constructive way.”
Migliore added that the pope would, in his visit to the northeastern United States, be commemorating the 200th anniversary of the genesis of the dioceses in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Louisville, Ky.
“In many ways, this trip is an introduction of Benedict to the United States,” Steinfels said, adding later, “His presence at the United Nations is a very powerful statement of the validity and importance of international institutions.”
Farley, in response to questions about tensions in the church over women who have shown great dedication to its doctrine yet still face roadblocks in gaining access to leadership positions, said more women are emerging from the strictly supportive roles of the past.
“We are wanting to be at the table,” she said.

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