Local News

North Carolinians Traveling to See Pope in Washington

Posted April 9, 2008 6:59 p.m. EDT
Updated April 10, 2008 5:14 a.m. EDT

— Pope Benedict XVI will be in the United States next week. He will celebrate Mass in Washington, D.C., where hundreds from North Carolina plan to attend, and in New York City.

The Pope will also meet with American bishops. Among those is Michael Burbidge, head of the Diocese of Raleigh. He met with the Holy Father last week in Rome.

It has been almost three years since Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope. He was 78 years old then.

Burbidge said  the leader of the Roman Catholic Church does not look his age.

"He looks wonderful. He looks very strong, extremely energized," Burbidge said.

Friday, Burbidge will lead a group of 1,400 from the Raleigh diocese for a special pilgrimage to Washington in advance of the papal visit.

"It will be a day of abundant blessings, not only for those who go, but also for the diocese," he said.

During his time in Washington, Burbidge will join his peers in a meeting with Pope Benedict.

He said he thinks mission work and the need for more seminary funding will be discussed, as well as a message of sorrow, trust and hope regarding the fallout from the clergy sex-abuse crisis.

"He'll have to speak of the help for people to be healed and about reconciliation and lifting of the morale of priests, the 97 to 98 percent who have been faithful," Burbidge said.

WRAL's David Crabtree will be reporting on the papal visit live during the 5 p.m. newscasts, beginning Wednesday, April 16.