Cardinal George to host pope on visit

April 16, 2008 1:26:33 PM PDT
For Cardinal George, Pope Benedict is a friend in addition to a spiritual leader.

The cardinal realizes that many Americans still don't know the man who succeeded Pope John Paul II.

"Well, we'll see how they receive him in the flesh, but you know, his predecessor was quite criticized as well as lauded. In hindsight, at his death, all of a sudden the whole world showed up, people began to look twice at what they may have dismissed earlier," said the cardinal.

As a prominent American cardinal, Francis George was already in the pope's inner circle, but even more so now.

Last year, Cardinal George was elected president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. so, he now represents all of the nation's top Catholic leaders, and once the pope touches American soil, Cardinal George will be close by.

"I'll be with him at his side. Well, around him anyways, they'll tell you where you have to go. The whole thing is quite security conscious this time of course. More so than in the past," said Cardinal George.

Extraordinary security is planned, surrounding the pope, both in Washington, DC, and in New York City.

Cardinal George says he never imagined the arrangements would be so detailed, but he realizes that it's a necessary precaution.

At the same time, connecting the pope with people is a key part of this trip.

"The problem is, the tension is, you protect people by isolating them and this is a pastoral visit, you have to get people in contact with him. So there's always that, talking things out," Cardinal George said.

The pope will meet with President Bush, speak to the United Nations, and visit Ground Zero in New York.

He'll also celebrate two huge masses, at the new Nationals ballpark and also in Yankee Stadium.

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