Pope is coming to Baltimore Oct. 8


Cardinal William H. Keeler and the Vatican press office in Rome announced simultaneously today that Pope John Paul II has rescheduled his trip to Baltimore in the fall, arriving here for a day-long Sunday visit Oct. 8.

As it would have been for the trip canceled last year for health reasons, the Oct. 4-8 tour of New York City, Newark, N.J., and Baltimore will be planned around an Oct. 5 address to the United Nations.

"We will welcome a man who, in the past several months, has seen his book become a best-seller, has been named Time magazine's Man of the Year, and who in his trip to the Philippines attracted one of the largest crowds in history," Cardinal Keeler said early today at Baltimore's Catholic Center downtown.

"We're delighted that our prayers for his recovery have been answered, and that the Holy Father is planning to be with us later this year to celebrate Mass at Oriole Park at Camden Yards," the cardinal said. "We will pick up our planning right where we left off last year."

Cardinal Keeler added, "The Holy Father's visit to Baltimore will be a celebration for the entire community."

Plans are for an afternoon arrival Oct. 4 at Newark (N.J.) International Airport. After visiting the U.N. the next day, the pope is to make a round of appearances in New York City, Newark and Brooklyn, N.Y., through Oct. 7.

Tentative plans are for him to duplicate the schedule of the Baltimore visit canceled last year, arriving on the morning of Oct. 8 at Baltimore Washington International Airport and leaving for Rome from there the same evening.

Cardinal Keeler said he learned Tuesday afternoon that the papal tour was being rescheduled, and he shared the news "privately" with Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, Baltimore Oriole majority owner Peter Angelos and Bruce Hoffman, executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority.

"Once again, everyone was excited and generously renewed pledges of assistance initially extended last year," the cardinal said.

He said that he anticipated no conflict with the rescheduling of the morning Mass at Camden Yards.

If the Orioles are playing, their last scheduled game of the regular season in Baltimore would be Oct. 1. The archdiocese announced that $250,000 in donations collected from Catholic parishioners last year to offset the cost of the papal visit will be applied to this year's expenses.

A large expense would have been the design and construction of the papal altar to be used for the outdoor Mass in Oriole Park, but it has been donated by architects and builders, the cardinal said.

The pope canceled the plans announced last April for a similar trip last October to the U.S. because he needed more time to recover from hip-replacement surgery, Vatican officials said.

That cancellation came at a time when the pope was looking particularly frail and tired, reviving concerns about his health. But the Vatican denied then and continues to deny that he is seriously ill.

The 74-year-old pontiff, who now walks with a cane, resumed foreign travel with a four-country Asian pilgrimage in January.

He announced during that tour that he planned to make up for canceled trips and resume his regular foreign travel. He said he expected to visit the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belgium and several African countries in addition to the United States.

The canceled one-day trip to Baltimore last year would have occurred on Oct. 23. It was intended to conclude a four-day visit to the New York area as well as Baltimore, all of which the Vatican announced Sept. 22 it was postponing because of the pope's health.

Firm new dates for the U.S. visit were not announced at that time, but it was believed that John Paul would time his appearances in New York in November to coincide with the United Nations' 50th anniversary.

The extra day in the New York area this time is to give the pope more opportunities for rest between events, Cardinal Keeler said.

"While details on this rescheduled visit have yet to be determined, the general framework remains the same -- with some additional breathing room for the Holy Father," the cardinal said.

He outlined what Vatican planners and church officials in this country believe the renewed October visit will include. "This will be a five-day trip involving meetings at the United Nations and three large public appearances in New York and New Jersey," Cardinal Keeler said.

While the pope is in Baltimore, it is expected -- as was planned last year -- that he "will celebrate morning Mass at Camden Yards, and lead a parade through downtown Baltimore," the cardinal said.

"A small prayer service at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen will precede the official departure ceremony from Baltimore-Washington International Airport," he said. Public officials and leaders of other religious faiths will be invited to take part.

The Vatican's confidential message to the Baltimore cardinal late Tuesday that the trip was to be rescheduled gave him and his staff "a day to make some calls and go over a few details," he said.

Funds collected in the parishes of the Baltimore archdiocese last June to cover costs of a papal visit "have been maintained and invested," an archdiocesan spokesman said, adding that the total is about $250,000.

Cardinal Keeler added: "We have all of the money collected, and another of our tasks in the near future will be to reopen the books and see where we are. When special needs arise, we will do as we did last year and look for people who can help in different ways, providing gifts in skills, gifts in time. We will not use any [operating] archdiocesan funds."

The health problems in September that led Pope John Paul to cancel last October's planned trip, including the one-day stop in Baltimore, were temporary and not life-threatening, church officials assured concerned Roman Catholics.

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