April 13, 2008 / 11:24 AM / in 9 years

FACTBOX: Papal visits to the United States

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(Reuters) - Pope Benedict, who begins his first trip to the United States as pope on Tuesday, is only the third head of the Roman Catholic Church to visit the country. His visit to Washington and New York takes place from April 15 to 20.

He will arrive in Washington and be greeted by U.S. President George W. Bush. He and Bush will hold private talks at the White House the next day. He will leave from New York on April 20.

Here's a glimpse into the previous papal visits to the United States:

* Pope Paul Vi:

-- Pope Paul VI was the first Catholic pontiff to visit the United States. His October 1965 trip included a first-time papal visit to the United Nations. The pope delivered a plea for peace to the U.N. General Assembly in special session on October 4.

* Pope John Paul Ii:

-- A prolific traveler, Pope John Paul visited 129 countries on 104 trips abroad following his election in 1978 as the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.

John Paul made seven visits to the United States.

-- In his first visit in October 1979, the pope expressed serious disagreements with the West, including aspects of American capitalism. He met President Jimmy Carter in Washington.

-- In 1981 and 1984, the pope made brief stopovers in Alaska on his way to other countries. He met President Ronald Reagan during his 1984 stopover in Fairbanks, Alaska, the first time a U.S. president and pope met outside of the White House or Vatican. The pope visited the United States a fourth time in September 1987.

-- In August 1993, he made his fifth trip to the United States to preside over the Roman Catholic Church's World Youth Day in Denver, a platform he used to crusade against abortion and implore American Catholics to take up the defense of life and "preach it from the rooftops."

-- The pope visited again in October 1995 and was greeted by President Bill Clinton on his arrival at the Newark, New Jersey, airport. In an address to the U.N. General Assembly, he said that genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda was a challenge to the world body to work against extreme nationalism and religious fundamentalism.

-- Pope John Paul's final visit to the United States was in January 1999 when he had a meeting with Clinton in St. Louis during a 30-hour visit.

Sources: Reuters; www.britannica.com; papalvisit.cua.edu; The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (usccb.wordpress.com/);

Writing by Jijo Jacob; Editing by David Cutler and Bill Trott

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