VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 9, 2011 ( Benedict XVI is praising the people of the United States for their "resilience in moving forward" after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which left some 3,000 dead.

In a letter sent to Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Pope expressed his prayerful support as the United States marks the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and on a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

The note, dated Sept. 11, 2011, states: "On this day my thoughts turn to the somber events of September 11, 2001, when so many innocent lives were lost in the brutal assault on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the further attacks in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. 

"I join you in commending the thousands of victims to the infinite mercy of Almighty God and in asking our heavenly Father to continue to console those who mourn the loss of loved ones."  

The Holy Father continues: "The American people are to be commended for the courage and generosity that they showed in the rescue operations and for their resilience in moving forward with hope and confidence."


Archbishop Dolan will participate over the weekend in a series of events to mark Sunday's anniversary of 9/11, including a prayer service on Saturday afternoon at St. Patrick's Cathedral for the New York City Fire Department. Some 343 firefighters died when the north and south towers of the World Trade Center collapsed.

On Sunday, the archbishop will preside at a Memorial Mass at 9 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and he will celebrate another mass at 12:30 p.m. that same day at St. Peter’s Church, across from the site of the World Trade Center. Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop emeritus of New York, will deliver the homily.

At 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Archbishop Dolan will speak at the Cantor Fitzgerald memorial service in honor of the 658 employees whose lives were taken at its World Trade Center offices. Cantor Fitzgerald was the company that lost the most lives on 9/11.

Additionally, Archbishop Dolan has granted permission to parishes in the archdiocese to use a special form of the Mass on that day, such as the Mass for Peace and Justice, or the Mass for Time of War or Civil Disturbance, or a Mass for the Dead, especially in parishes with ties to those who lost their lives or churches that are close to the site of the attacks.

Dozens of other events will be held in the city over the weekend, including a rosary and Mass on Sunday, followed by an annual walk of remembrance for

Franciscan Father Mychal Judge, the Fire Department chaplain who was the first 9/11 victim to be identified. The event will begin Sunday at 9 a.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan.

In addition to the commemorative events, many churches throughout the city will toll their bells at 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m., the times that the Twin Towers were struck.