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Pope to stress interfaith ties during NYC visit, Cardinal Dolan says

Pope Francis waves to the Boy Scouts gathered

Pope Francis waves to the Boy Scouts gathered in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on June 13, 2015. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Franco Origlia

Pope Francis will seek to emphasize the importance of interreligious relations during his September visit to New York City and will hold up the city as a prime example of harmony among faiths, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said Sunday.

Dolan said the pontiff will reflect on and grieve about the use of religion as a vehicle of violence during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and then meet with clerical leaders who are working toward a peaceful path together.

"Pope Francis has been amazed at the interreligious friendship and harmony in the United States and especially in New York," Dolan told 970/AM host John Catsimatidis during a radio interview.

His busy schedule while in the city includes a Sept. 25 address to the General Assembly of the United Nations that will be "a ringing call for religious freedom, the protection of all religions around the world, particularly religious minorities," Dolan said.

Immediately afterward, Francis will "be in tearful silence at the Sept. 11 memorial where religion was used in a perverse and viciously evil way to justify an act of terror," Dolan said. "What he's telling the world is this is not the way religion should be used."

He will next visit the underground museum at the memorial site where 500 leaders representing the city's diversity of faiths will gather, Dolan said.

This is a contingent of clerics "who love one another, who get along well and who work together for the betterment of this great city," the cardinal said. "He's more or less saying this is the way that religion should get along, so I think it's going to be powerful."

Francis' first visit as pontiff to the United States -- from Sept. 22 to 27 -- also includes stops in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, where he will attend the World Meeting of Families.

"That's the main course," Dolan said of the Philadelphia summit. "Why don't I do some pasta and antipasto?" Dolan added jokingly about the pope's thinking when he added stops in Washington and New York.

Pope Francis' one-day, two-night swing through New York City will also feature evening prayers at the newly restored St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, a visit to an inner-city Catholic school in East Harlem, a meeting with immigrants at the nearby Catholic Charities site and a Mass for 25,000 at Madison Square Garden.

Visit organizers and law enforcement officials are still working toward a "compromise" that allows masses of supporters to see Francis while ensuring his safety and security, Dolan said. "Some type of open vehicle" may be used and the pontiff's routes will eventually be publicized, Dolan said.

When will most people have a chance to glimpse Pope Francis? Obviously on the street, on the motorcades," the cardinal said. "Pope Francis has charmed the world with his humility and simplicity. He doesn't like bulletproof limos. He doesn't like to be separated from the people."


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