PopeTrip'08: In the Capital, the "State of the Unum"
As all but a few members of the US hierarchy have gotten little direct exposure to Benedict's mind, aside from the routine practice of a brief baciamano greeting following his General Audiences, the foreseen speech would serve as this pontificate's first in-depth public assessment of the state of American Catholicism.
What's more, the timing of the talk will also provide an advance glimpse into what the church in the States can expect to hear in greater detail shortly down the line; the quinquennial ad limina visit of the American bishops begins early in 2009. By that time, the US hierarchy will be the last major group to make the five-yearly pilgrimage to Rome in Benedict's reign.
In the meantime, a seeming sneak-preview of April's message was given by the Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone SDB on his visit to last August's Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in Nashville.
Some might've read the "Vice-Pope's" major address at the time... but you might want to read it again.
And for all the rest, stay tuned.