NEW YORK – In his second and last press conference before Pope Francis arrives in the United States Tuesday, the Filipino Papal Nuncio Reverend Bernardito Auza said, after a consultation with the Pope, for the first time the United Nations will raise the flag of the Holy See on the morning of September 25.
“There will be no ceremony,” said Auza. “We will not even be there because I will be with the Pope at that time. So when the Pope arrives around, 8:30 AM at the U.N., the flag will already be raised by the U.N. itself, not by us.”
As the Pope gets ready to speak before the U.N. General Assembly and the U.S. Congress, Rev. Auza maintained that the Pope is not coming to the U.S. as a politician; instead, he is coming as a religious leader.
“He will not be speaking as a technical expert,” said Auza. “He will not be speaking like a high U.N. official but he will be speaking above all as a pastor, as a religious leader, as a prophet, and as a Father.”
A member of the press asked Auza if the Pope would specifically address the problem of sex abuse among some clergy members.
“Probably what they’re referring to is that report of the commission on the rights of a child, and the Holy See has already responded thoroughly, if you want to know the text it’s available.”
Another question raised during the presscon: Will the Pope get off the Pope Mobile and walk among the faithful?
Auza says such details cannot be confirmed at this time and it would be up to the Pope to decide.
“If the Pope walks he will be greeting everybody,” said Auza. “There will be many Filipinos probably shouting Viva Il Papa, chances are he would stop and bless them and even talk to them.”
A day before Pope Francis arrives Rev. Auza sends this message to Filipino faithfuls in the U.S.: Come to the Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families in the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.
“It’s the biggest event of all and there are no tickets,” said Auza. “I told them don’t worry, just go there and treat it like a picnic, like camping.”
Pope Francis starts his three-city visit in the U.S. in Washington DC Tuesday, September 22.