Pope Benedict XVI will travel to the United States for the first time as pontiff next year to meet with President Bush, address the United Nations and visit ground zero, a Vatican official told American bishops Monday.

The pope also will celebrate Mass at the new Nationals Park stadium and Yankee Stadium during the April 15-20 visit to Washington and New York, according to Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Vatican ambassador to the United States.

The announcement comes as the 67 million-member American church is grappling with a priest shortage and an often alienated flock and is still recovering from the clergy sex abuse crisis. American dioceses have paid more than $2 billion in settlements with victims since 1950.