Pope Benedict XVI praised America as a land of opportunity and hope Thursday as he celebrated the first public Mass of his U.S. pilgrimage, but he lamented that the nation's promise fell short for blacks and Indians. Hope for the future, he said, "is very much a part of the American character."
Tens of thousands of worshippers filled Nationals Park on a clear spring day and cheered Benedict as he arrived in a white popemobile, standing in the back and waving. The crowd grew to 46,000, and the demand for tickets doubled the supply, organizers said.
The pope, wearing scarlet vestments, led the service from an altar erected in centerfield of the recently inaugurated baseball stadium. Rows of red-robed church leaders joined him.
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Yesterday, the Pope gave a speech at the White House that impressed Bush very much. When the Pope finished, Bush leaned over and said, "Thank you, your Holiness. Awesome speech."
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