new_pope_final.jpg“Apostolic Visit to the United States of America and to the Seat of the United Nations,” is the official name of Pope Benedict XVI’s first mission to the United States as Pontiff. From April 15th-20th, the “Primate of Italy” will hold court in Washington, D.C. and New York City. He arrives today at Andrews Air Force Base, but will be officially received by the White House on Wednesday, which should be entertainingly awkward, since the Pope declined an invitation from President Bush for a formal dinner in his honor, despite having a free schedule. On Thursday the 17th, the pope will bless the crowds in front of thousands at the brand new Washington Nationals Park and speak at some Catholic colleges. From there, he’ll head north, for the grimy unblessed landscape of NYC. The Pope will give a speech to the UN on Friday the 18th followed by a big mass at St. Patrick’s on Saturday, of course. On Sunday, he’ll pray for terrorists at Ground Zero and then zip up to the Bronx to help give communion to a flock of 57,000 worshipers in 14 minutes at Yankee Stadium. This will be the third guy with a funny hat to do so: Pope Paul VI was there in 1965 and Pope John Paul II in 1979.

The last time Benedict visited NYC was in 1988, he went by the name of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, lead theologian of Germany and confidant of beloved pope John Paul II. That trip was marred by protests from the Jews over controversial statements he made.
To mark the new Pope’s return, ANIMAL will be unveiling its own, extended coverage of this landmark occasion throughout the week. In addition we’ll have former NY Press editor-in-chief Jeff Koyen on board to help us file exclusive pontifical reports. You may recall, he and the papacy have a history together. Also, ANIMAL commissioned artist Michael Ian Weinfeld to create the “POPE” image you see above. The limited run, popetacular print will be released in editions of 666, signed and numbered. You want one? Find about availability over HERE.