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Pope to Address UN General Assembly, Friday


Pope Benedict XVI addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Friday. The pontiff will also meet with the U.N. Secretary-General and have an opportunity to greet U.N. staffers. From U.N. headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more on the papal visit.

The pope's visit falls exactly one year to the day after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the pontiff at the Vatican. Mr. Ban gave reporters an indication of what he will talk to the pontiff about during their meeting.

"I expect to discuss with him a number of issues, starting from poverty eradication, MDGs [Millennium Development Goals], climate change, the dialogue among civilizations," said Ban Ki-moon. "We are now facing many challenges these days. We need really strong spiritual support from the pope. I am really looking forward to meeting him on Friday."

The last pope to visit the United Nations was John Paul II, who first came in 1979 and then again in 1995. The only other pope to visit the world body was Pope Paul VI in 1965.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the pope's representative at the United Nations, gave some indication of what the pontiff would talk about during his address to the General Assembly.

"Pope Benedict will not necessarily touch upon a specific crisis in the world - unfortunately there are too many to be dealt with in a few minutes," said Archbishop Migliore. "But surely, coming to the U.N. as a pilgrim of peace he will say that we cannot base our relations on the false notion that 'might makes right.' That we cannot build our future on the simple balance of power. Our future must be based on respect for universal truths and our common humanity."

After the pontiff addresses the General Assembly, he will meet some U.N. officials and then address several hundred staff members.

In a small ceremony, he will be presented with a bouquet of flowers from a boy and girl, and then the U.N. International school choir will sing for him.

Before departing, Pope Benedict will stop at a meditation room where a flag memorializes the victims of the 2003 bombing of the U.N.'s Baghdad headquarters that killed 22 people.

Later in the day, the pope will visit a Catholic Church and a Jewish synagogue in the city.

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