Benedict XVI heading off on first visit to US as pope

From a presidential welcome, to two Masses at baseball stadiums, to a stop for prayer at ground zero in New York, Pope Benedict XVI will get a heavy dose of the American experience in his first pilgrimage to the United States. Benedict departed for Washington on Tuesday, with President George W. Bush planning to make the unusual gesture of greeting him when his special Alitalia jetliner touches down at Andrews Air Force Base - the first time the president has greeted a foreign leader there. While the pope and Bush differ on such major issues on the Iraq war, capital punishment and the U.S. embargo against Cuba, they do find common ground in opposing abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research. Benedict is expected to stress the importance of moral values and take on what he sees are the dangers of moral relativism - that is that there are no absolute rights and wrongs. While in New York, he will deliver a major address at the United Nations. He will also visit the Park East synagogue, part of his efforts for close relations with Jews whom, like his predecessor John Paul II, he has referred to as "our older brothers in faith."