The visit includes a follow up visit with President Bush and the comments about the war in Iraq are instructive.

Though often used as indicating the Vatican’s opposition to this war, they actually express an ancient Church position of opposition to all war, and only see war justified after all other options have been taken, which most Americans believe was done prior to beginning the war with Iraq.

Nuncio says pope comes to strengthen faith, hope, love of U.S. church
By Julie Asher
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — When Pope Benedict XVI celebrates his first papal Mass in the United States, it will be a “familial” gathering at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, said the Vatican ambassador to the United States, Italian Archbishop Pietro Sambi.

The pontiff also will celebrate his 81st birthday that day, April 16.

Archbishop Sambi said the approximately 30 staff members at the nunciature are “all excited to have this morning” with the pope.

He also said he hopes the message U.S. Catholics get from the papal visit is “one of the things that the pope pronounced the first day after being elected pope: Don’t be afraid. Jesus Christ takes away nothing from you, but he will enrich you.”

Pope Benedict will visit Washington April 15-17 and New York April 18-20.

Aside from a meeting with President George W. Bush and a major U.N. address the pope will deliver April 18, the papal trip is first and foremost “a pastoral journey,” said Archbishop Sambi.

… A Feb. 15 statement from the White House press secretary’s office said the two leaders will continue discussions begun during Bush’s 2007 visit to the Vatican, including “advancing peace throughout the Middle East and other troubled regions, promoting interfaith understanding and strengthening human rights and freedom, especially religious liberty, around the world.”

Asked about diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the U.S. in light of the church’s criticism of Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq, Archbishop Sambi replied that “the deep conviction of the Holy See is that war must be always the last option. All other options have to be tried before starting a war. A war is always a sign of human failure in reaching an agreement.

“Peace is not a defeat for anybody but is a victory for the future,” he added.