The Pope and his addressing the issue of clergy and sexual abuse by priests.
Clergy and religious people from every Catholic diocese in the U.S. will gather under one roof when Pope Benedict XVI celebrates a historic Massat St. Patrick's Cathedral a week from Saturday.
It'll be the first Mass celebrated by a pope in the church that's the spiritual center for the Archdiocese of New York.
Pope John Paul II, Benedict's predecessor, visited the cathedral twice but did not preside over a Mass either time.
And Bishop Dominick Lagonegro, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Newburghand the archdiocese's vicar in Orange County, noted the Mass falls onthe third anniversary of the day the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzingerwas elected pope.
The Mass for the clergy andreligious orders has local priests, nuns and others eagerly waiting tohear what special messages the pope might have for them.
Monsignor William E. Williams of St. John the Evangelist Church in Saugerties,and the Ulster County vicar, said the pope will focus on the twofold message of hope and love, and ask those at the Mass to carry that message to others.
"So many times, people think the world is hopeless," Williams said.
Benedict XVI also will be looking to heal past wounds. Cardinal TarcisioBertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, said earlier this week the pope will address the clergy sexual -abuse scandal during his six-day visit to the U.S., and will offer a message of "trust and hope" at the cathedral Mass.
Lagonegro said that's aperfect role for Benedict XVI, since before he became pope, he was the Vatican official most closely involved in addressing those cases.
The gathering also gives those attending a chance to congratulate four archdioceses — New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville — that are marking their bicentennials this year.
Most clergy and religious people won't speculate too much on what the pope will say. Sister Rita Mairelenes Kotmair at the Marycrest Convent in Monroe said whatever the pope's message, he'll have a receptive audience.
And Monsignor Edward Straub, pastorof the Church of St. Peter in Liberty and Sullivan County's vicar,predicted with the pope's clear and direct way of speaking, his message will reach its target.
"I look forward to being surprised," Straub said.
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