More than 11,000 supporters packed the White House front lawn. An Honor Guard performed a ceremony, and a band played just before the president walked from the White House to greet Pope Francis.
“Holy Father, on behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House,” said President Obama. “Our backyard is not typically this crowded….”
The president thanked Catholic organizations around the world for helping the poor and “breaking the chains of poverty.” He also thanked Pope Francis for centering his concerns upon the “least of these,” meaning the less fortunate and impoverished. “And, Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet—God’s magnificent gift to us,” the president said.
Both the pope's and President Obama's messages focused on similar issues.
Pope Francis spoke briefly, and he thanked the president for his initiatives to reduce air pollution, saying that "it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation.”
Pope Francis also spoke specifically of American Catholics, emphasizing the role they needed to play in creating a tolerant and inclusive society in America, and the need to reject “every form of unjust discrimination.”
J. Weston Phippen
What the pope will NOT say to Obama and Congress
September 22nd, 2015 6:59 p.m.
Pope Francis may have helped warm relations between the United States and Cuba, but he will not be urging President Obama or members of Congress to lift the U.S. embargo on the communist island, Vatican press secretary Federico Lombardi told journalists after arriving in Washington with the pope.
Francis will continue encouraging open relations between the two countries, but will stop there, Lombardi said. Francis is scheduled to meet with Obama at the White House on Wednesday morning, and will address members of Congress on Thursday.
"The position of the Catholic Church is clear: [The embargo] is clearly a source of suffering for the people," Lombardi said. "The pope has already said that."
A few members of Congress have said they will boycott the pope's speech on Capitol Hill on Thursday in protest of his outspoken views on climate change and immigration reform. But Lombardi said he has no plans to advocate for specific policies during his weeklong visit.
He is here to "encourage dialogue," Lombardi said.
Alexia Fernández Campbell
Soccer-star welcome for Pope Francis in Washington
September 22nd, 2015 4:35 p.m.
"Olé, olé, olé, olé ¡El Papa!, ¡El Papa!"
Pope Francis received a soccer-star welcome to the United States Tuesday afternoon as he got off his plane at Andrews Air Force Base.
Chanting in Spanish drowned out screams and cheers from the crowd of about 100 people who attended his arrival ceremony.
"Papa, Francisco, bendice a tus hijos," the crowd chanted in Spanish as Air Force personnel rolled out the red carpet for him on the tarmac. Translation: "Pope, Francis, bless your children."