The U.S. President Barack Obama held an arrival ceremony for Pope Francis at the White House on Wednesday. It was an encounter between the most powerful nation political leader and the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic’ world.
Pope Francis is the third pontiff who visited the White House. And Obama welcomed him on behalf of the seventy million American Catholics. During his tour of the U.S. the pontiff is going to visit also Philadelphia and New York. Washington became the first place Pope Francis has visited on his six-day trip. A large delegation, including the U.S. President’s family and Joe Biden, greeted Pope as he arrived at Andrews Air Force Base. During the meeting ceremony, the two leaders have listened both to the American national and the pontifical anthems played by Marine band.
In his opening remark, the pontiff said that he awaits for “days of encounter and dialogue”. The crowd of about 15,000 people gathered on the famous South Lawn to welcome the spiritual leader. For American Catholics this visit of Pope Francis became highly anticipated and important moment, due to a contrast between Pope Francis’ focus on mercy and social justice and the America’s bishops fierce struggle against abortion and sexual minorities’ rights. Each year, the U.S. Catholic Church spends a lot of funds to improve the migration system and to give refugees and poor an opportunity to live better.
The Pope is a quite popular figure in the U.S. right now. Surprisingly, both progressives and conservatives seem to regard the Bishop of Rome as their ally. The first group sympathizes with Pope’s leftist social views and his care for the poor and less fortunate, and the second considers him an ally in the fight against abortion and same-sex marriage.
On Thursday morning, Pope Francis became the first pontiff who addressed a joint meeting of American Congress. He was invited by a Catholic Republican John Boehner (R-OH).
Barack Obama first became acquainted with Pope Francis in Vatican last year. During the Vatican meeting, leaders talked of their similar aims on combating climate change and about reestablishing diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. Before pontiff arrived at the U.S., he has visited Cuba, where he has met with President Raul Castro.2 comments