Pope Draws Thousands to Mass

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated mass at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. Thursday morning. More than 46,000 people attended.

Pope Conducts Mass with Thousands in Washington

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C. i i

hide captionPope Benedict XVI celebrates mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images
Pope Benedict XVI celebrates mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images
Tens of thousands flocked together for the first Mass by Pope Benedict XVI on his U.S. visit. i i

hide captionTens of thousands flocked together for the first Mass by Pope Benedict XVI on his U.S. visit.

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Tens of thousands flocked together for the first Mass by Pope Benedict XVI on his U.S. visit.

Tens of thousands flocked together for the first Mass by Pope Benedict XVI on his U.S. visit.

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI presided over an open-air Mass of 45,000 people at a Washington, D.C., baseball stadium, where hundreds of voices sang out to the masses during the pope's historic visit to the nation's capital.

Tens of thousands of people filled the baseball stadium to hear the leader of the Roman Catholic Church speak of his audience as a people of hope, which he called "part of the American character."

At the event, the German-born pope also acknowledged the pain and harm done to the victims of priests caught up in a sexual abuse scandal.

The pontiff made the remarks on the scandal, which has cost the church $2 billion and bankrupted several dioceses in recent years, as part of a homily to the multitude of faithful at the new Nationals Park, a new stadium.

"No words of mine can describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse," he said.

Benedict added that great efforts had been made to deal "honestly and fairly" with the aftermath of the scandal, in which it was discovered that priests who had abused children were transferred instead of being defrocked or turned over to police.

Benedict asked Catholics to love their pastors and to affirm the excellent work that they do.

After the Mass, Benedict is scheduled to meet with Catholic educators in Washington, and to meet with leaders of other faiths. The pope then heads to New York, where he will also hold a Mass and speak at the United Nations.

From NPR reports and the Associated Press.

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