NEW YORK — Pope Francis will lead an ecumenical meeting for peace at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York during his first trip to the United States in September, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Francis' visit, which is tied to the September 22-27 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, will also include a White House meeting with President Barack Obama, addresses before the U.N. General Assembly and a joint session of Congress, and visits to East Harlem's Our Lady Queen of Angels School and the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia.
On September 25, Pope Francis will visit the 9/11 memorial and pay his respects to the nearly 3,000 victims of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks and the February 26, 1993, bombing at the site, according to memorial officials.
In April 2008, Pope Benedict XVI prayed during a ceremony at the World Trade Center site before the memorial opened.
"Pope Francis' visit to the Memorial and Museum will be a special moment for our city," former Mayor and 9/11 memorial Chairman Michael Bloomberg said in a statement, adding that the Pope will be among the more than 6.5 million visitors to the site this year.
"His visit will also serve as a marker for how far the World Trade Center has come since Pope Benedict XVI visited the site seven years ago, when it was still an open hole in the ground and closed off to the public," Bloomberg said.
"Now, it is a beautiful and inspiring place, a symbol of our rebirth and resilience that is full of life, and that honors the victims of the attacks and tells their stories to the world."
Francis will arrive in Washington on September 22 after visiting Cuba, according to his official itinerary. He will travel to New York on September 24 and to Philadelphia on September 26 before returning to Rome.
His schedule includes Masses at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Madison Square Garden in New York, and the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul and the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
Pope Francis' journey to the United States is "a source of joy and gratitude," Louisville, Kentucky, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement.
The Pope will visit Cuba on his way to the United States -- a trip that will come months after he helped negotiate a diplomatic thaw between the two countries.