People were lining the streets to get a glimpse of Pope Francis as he made his way to the White House to discuss politics with President Obama and 11,000 ticketed guests at the welcoming ceremony on the South Lawn.
Pope Francis directly addressed the American people on topics such as climate change, Cuba, marriage, and immigration.
The Pope praised President Obama on his work for a cleaner Earth, specifically on the initiative for reducing air pollution. The two leaders also agreed that it was time to reconcile with Cuba.
Pope Francis then went on to discuss the importance of traditional values when it came to the institution of marriage and families. He stated that American Catholics were “concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society, respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions.”
While the Pope did briefly mention immigration, he did not address the full political issue, leaving many to believe that he may give his opinion on the issue later during his visit.
Pope Francis then addressed one of the issues that is a central theme to his papacy. He discussed how the global economy is making few people very rich, but at the expense of the many.
“I would like all men and women of goodwill in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development,” Francis said.
When the Pope first entered the White House, President Obama warmly welcomed Pope Francis to the United States.
“In your humility, your embrace of simplicity, in the gentleness of your words and the generosity of your spirit,” Obama told the pope, “we see a living example of Jesus’ teachings, a leader whose moral authority comes not just through words but also through deeds.”
The Pope’s visit to the White House is just the beginning for today’s activities. Pope Francis will also be in two parades, a midday prayer with Catholic bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral and the canonization of an 18th century missionary.