(Vatican Information Service) - A video message by the Pope addressed to citizens of the U.S.A. was made public today. Benedict XVI is due to visit the United States from April l5 to 21.
Speaking in English, the Holy Father offers "a heartfelt greeting and an invitation to prayer."
"As you know," he continues, "I shall only be able to visit two cities: Washington and New York. The intention behind my visit, though, is to reach out spiritually to all Catholics in the United States."
After thanking the people working to organize his trip and those who are praying for its success, Benedict XVI talks of his conviction that "without the power of prayer, without that intimate union with the Lord, our human endeavours would achieve very little."
"Together with your bishops, I have chosen as the theme of my journey three simple but essential words: 'Christ our Hope.' ... Jesus Christ is hope for men and women of every language, race, culture and social condition. ... Through him, our lives reach fullness, and together, both as individuals and peoples, we can become a family united by fraternal love, according to the eternal plan of God the Father. I know how deeply rooted this Gospel message is in your country. I am coming to share it with you, in a series of celebrations and gatherings.
"I shall also bring the message of Christian hope to the great Assembly of the United Nations," the Pope adds, "to the representatives of all the peoples of the world. Indeed, the world has greater need of hope than ever: hope for peace, for justice, and for freedom, but this hope can never be fulfilled without obedience to the law of God, which Christ brought to fulfilment in the commandment to love one another. Do to others as you would have them do to you, and avoid doing what you would not want them to do. This 'golden rule' is given in the Bible, but it is valid for all people, including non-believers. It is the law written on the human heart; on this we can all agree, so that when we come to address other matters we can do so in a positive and constructive manner for the entire human community."
The Holy Father then goes on to address Spanish-speaking U.S. Catholics in their own language, expressing his "spiritual closeness, especially to the young, the sick, the elderly and those who are suffering difficulties or feel in greatest need."
Benedict XVI concludes his message with thanks for everyone living in the United States, "even if my itinerary is short", he says, "my heart is close to all of you."