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Popes in America: 50 Years of Papal Visits

October 4, 1965

Paul VI arrives in New York City: During his visit, he addresses the U.N. General Assembly, blesses the new Cardinal of New York in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and meets with President Lyndon B. Johnson at the Waldorf Astoria. His visit lasts a total of 14 hours.

Onlookers wait to catch a glimpse of Pope Paul VI as he drives through New York City.
Harry Benson/Getty
September 21, 1965 The Pope Among Us
Murray Kempton

"He had come not for us but for the United Nations ... He sounded marvelously innocent of the grounds for quarrel between great nations and, for that reason, the more marvelous for the occasion. Four years ago, the Russians would have darkly searched his text for the ghost of John Foster Dulles; and the Americans would have been wondering whether the Vatican is not a little soft on Communism. Now the United States and the Soviet Union sit together contemplating the barbarities of the Chinese. Pope Paul had fallen perfectly upon the mood of the Assembly and set its key."

September 29, 1979

Pope John Paul II begins his first trip to the United States: He visits Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Des Moines, and Washington, D.C.

October 20, 1979 Popestock in Chicago
Thomas Geoghegan

"The largest Catholic archdiocese in the United States (2.4 million), the home of the most Polish ethnics (500,000), Chicago probably was more obsessed with John Paul's arrival than any other city. In fact, the city nearly fell victim to its own build-up of the big event, and began to look on Popestock (or "Popefest" as city officials liked to say) with the same enthusiasm it might have for a nuclear accident evacuation."

September 10, 1987

John Paul II begins his fourth trip to the United States: While he made stopovers in Alaska in '81 and '84, this is only the second time JPII returns for an extended visit. His stops include Miami, Columbia, SC, New Orleans, San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Francisco, and Detroit.

John Paul II shakes hands with Ronald Reagan in Miami.
Wikimedia Commons
October 5, 1987 Papa Do Preach
Andrew Sullivan

"The message of John Paul throughout the American trip was daringly simple: a liberal social and economic activism needs a conservative doctrinal and spiritual base. It's a radical but effortlessly Catholic philosophy, and the importance of the Southwest is that it's the crucible for the experiment. John Paul understands this. He also understands that if it doesn't work here, it won't work anywhere."

August 12, 1993

John Paul II visits Denver, Colorado for World Youth Day.

President Bill Clinton and John Paul II meet in Denver during World Youth Day.
Luke Frazza/Getty Images
September 6, 1993 John Denver
Robin Chotzinoff

"All week long, Secret Service helicopters had been flying over our street, scoping out the route to the college where the pope and President Clinton were to meet. T-shirts featuring the pope and the Rocky Mountains were for sale on front lawns fbr blocks around. John Paul—or Juan Pablo, as he was called in this neighborhood—was in town with a vengeance."

October, 1995

John Paul II's sixth visit to the U.S.: He travels to Newark, New York, and Baltimore, where he celebrates a Mass at Camden Yards.

John Paul II delivers a homily at Camden Yards.
Michel Gange/Getty Images
October 30, 1995 Indulgences
Jennifer Bradley

"The most politically troublesome thing about the pope's homily in Baltimore was not his obvious reference to abortion...but his declaration that "democracy cannot be sustained without a shared commitment to certain moral truths about the human person and human community." American democracy does rest on moral truths, a whole passel of them, but these truths are rarely legislated ... A very catholic country can never be a very Catholic country."

January, 1999

John Paul II's seventh and final visit to the United States: He heads to St. Louis for the Closing of the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops, a papal advisory body.

April, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI's first and only visit to the United States: He meets with President George W. Bush, visits Ground Zero, and addresses the U.N. General Assembly. He also celebrates masses at Nationals Park in D.C. and Yankee Stadium in New York.

The New York City fire chief kisses Pope Benedict XVI at Ground Zero.
AFP/Getty Images
April 9, 2008 Family Values
Michael Sean Winters

"If Benedict highlights immigration during his major addresses, Democrats would do well to take notes. The pope's pro-family stance is extremely resonant with Latino voters ... Fine-tuning the Democratic appeal to Latinos could represent quite the electoral trove in November: Latinos have turned out in record numbers for the 2008 primaries. ... In contrast to the harm the Church inflicted on Kerry, this surely counts as papal absolution."

September, 2015

Pope Francis arrives in the United States: His schedule includes stops in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City, as well as a meeting with President Obama.

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