Lasorda to Receive Pope at the White House

President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush have invited Hall of Fame Manager and Special Advisor to the Chairman Tommy Lasorda to attend the arrival ceremony of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Lasorda will attend the ceremony tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House, as well as a private dinner hosted by President and Mrs. Bush later that evening at the White House.

"I am truly honored to be invited to such a special occasion," said Lasorda. "It is humbling to be in such distinguished company. I just wish my parents could be alive to see this."  

Lasorda will join diplomats, elected representatives, and government officials, as well as Catholic clergy, ecumenical representatives, local Catholic school children, and members of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Sisters of the Poor, and the Knights of Columbus at the welcoming ceremony.  

The ceremony will begin with President Bush introducing His Holiness to U.S. Delegation members including the Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.   

The Marine Band will perform the National Anthem of the Holy See. Simultaneously, there will be a 21-gun salute followed by the playing of the National Anthem of the United States of America.  Grammy Award-winner Kathleen Battle will perform "The Lord's Prayer," which will be followed by the President's remarks.  

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI will then deliver his remarks, which will be followed by the U.S. Army Chorus performing "Battle Hymn of the Republic," which will the conclude the ceremony.  

Lasorda, who has frequently been called to serve in dignitary roles on numerous occasions for President Bush and Major League Baseball, has previously met two Popes, His Holiness Pope John Paul I and His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI will mark the third.  Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass at Dodger Stadium on September 16, 1987, halfway through Lasorda's tenure as Dodger manager.  

During his six-decade career, Lasorda has met seven U.S. Presidents - Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, who asked Lasorda to serve as a delegate to the U.S. National Day at the World Exposition in Aichi, Japan in June 2005.

The World Exposition was not the first time that President Bush has called upon Lasorda for his assistance, as the Hall of Fame manager participated in the festivities surrounding the President's inauguration in January 2005.

Two months later, Lasorda accompanied Frank and Jamie McCourt, in addition to the family of Jackie Robinson, during a visit to the White House to represent the Dodgers in a ceremony that posthumously awarded Robinson with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Last season, Lasorda joined Dodger legend Don Newcombe in leading a contingent of Little Leaguers from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. for a tee-ball game on the South Lawn of the White House.  

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