Pope spent awkward minutes waiting at open door of his plane

francis new era

Pope spent awkward minutes waiting at open door of his plane as Obama crossed the tarmac – but it was all because of protocol, White House say

  •  Pope spent awkward two minutes, 18 seconds at open door of his plane before descending to meet president 
  • The delays raised speculation that the habitually late U.S. president wasn’t on time to meet the Pontiff; not so, said an administration official 
  • ‘They needed to hold so that the press travelling with the Vatican could deplane and embed with the press corps’

Pope Francis got stuck circling North Carolina this afternoon when his aircraft arrived in the United States early, a tracking device on his flight shows. And when he finally landed at Joint Base Andrews, he had to wait at the top of the steps for two minutes 18 seconds before he could depart the aircraft to meet President Barack Obama. The delays raised speculation that the habitually late U.S. president wasn’t on time to meet the pontiff. Not so, said an administration official. ‘They needed to hold five minutes so that the press travelling with the Vatican could deplane and embed with the press corps.’

On his way: A White House official sprinted up the steps two minutes before the Pope descended. At the same time, the president went on to the tarmac

Keeping a lookout: The Pope had a just over two-minute wait at the open door of his plane while the president arrived. The delay was said to be to allow reporters traveling with him to leave by the back stairs

Here anyway: Pope Francis got stuck circling North Carolina this afternoon when his aircraft arrived in the United States early, a tracking device on his flight shows

Obama was scheduled to meet the Pope at 4 pm. He arrived, according to reporters accompanying him, at 3:31 pm. Based on the pope's flight path, the pontiff was early

And Pope Francis and Obama had to wait to formally greet each other to give reporters enough time to exit the back of the plane and get in position

Obama was scheduled to meet the Pope at 4 pm. He arrived, according to reporters accompanying him, at 3:31 pm. After The Atlantic published a copy of the Pope’s flight path and reported that Obama and vice president Biden caused the delay by being late, Twitter erupted with cries of ‘arrogance’ and ‘narcissist’. Others didn’t understand why Obama left the religious leader hanging on the tarmac for so long. Radio host Brian Sussman ‏wrote: ‘Obama’s Papal diss? Even if you aren’t Catholic you don’t keep the Pope waiting.’

The White House said however that Pope Francis and Obama had to wait to formally greet each other, to give reporters traveling on the Papal plane enough time to exit the back of the plane to get in position to see him walk down the stairs and be welcomed by the president. It meant that there was a two minute 18 second delay between the Papal plane’s door opening when a White House official went up the stairs, and the Pope coming down. He could be seen hanging back beside the plane’s bulkhead. The Alitalia jet had been given the call sign Shepherd One for the flight. Tomorrow Obama will welcome the Pope again with great fanfare, this time at the White House. They’ll meet privately afterward, and later, the Pope will decamp for a mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

POPE IN AMERICA: FRANCIS’S ITINERARY ON HIS FIRST TRIP TO THE UNITED STATES

Pope Francis, who has never been to the United States before, will arrive from Cuba at Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington D.C. on Tuesday, September 22.

WEDNESDAY: WASHINGTON D.C. 

9.15am: Welcome ceremony and meeting with President Obama at the White House

11am: Papal Parade along the Ellipse and the National Mall (time approximate)

11.30am: Midday Prayer with the bishops of the United States, St. Matthew’s Cathedral

4.15pm: Mass of Canonization of Junipero Serra, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

THURSDAY: WASHINGTON D.C. AND NEW YORK 

9.20am: Address to Joint Meeting of the United States Congress

11.15am: Visit to St. Patrick in the City and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington

4pm: Depart from Joint Base Andrews

5pm: Arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport

6.45pm: Evening Prayer (Vespers) at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

FRIDAY: NEW YORK 

8.30am: Visit to the United Nations and address to the United Nations General Assembly

11.30am: Multi-religious service at 9/11 Memorial and Museum, World Trade Center

4pm: Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School, East Harlem

5pm: Procession through Central Park (time approximate)

6pm: Mass at Madison Square Garden

A worker walks through rows of chairs being set up in preparation of the Pope Francis visit at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington

SATURDAY: NEW YORK AND PHILADELPHIA

8.40am: Departure from John F. Kennedy International Airport

9.30am: Arrival at Atlantic Aviation, Philadelphia

10.30am: Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia

4.45pm: Visit to Independence Mall

7.30pm: Visit to the Festival of Families Benjamin Franklin Parkway

SUNDAY: PHILADELPHIA

9.15am: Meeting with bishops at St. Martin’s Chapel, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary

11am: Visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility

4pm: Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families, Benjamin Franklin Parkway

7pm: Visit with organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families, Atlantic Aviation

8pm: Departure for Rome

BERGOGLIO GOES BACK TO ROME -     

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