BERGOGLIO IN DC: Pope Francis alludes to church molestation scandal and the ‘pain’ of past wounds

PASTORAL IT DOES NOT MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS

My Visit Is Pastoral, Not Political – Pope Francis Bergoglio, Sept. 23/15

Political not Pastoral trip to U.S. for Pope Francis-Bergoglio… Enforcing his Marxist Agenda, World-Wide Tour…

Pope Francis alludes to church molestation scandal and the ‘pain’ of past wounds during DC prayer service after thrilling thousands of fans at the White House with the message: ‘God Bless America!’

Pope Francis described the Catholic church’s molestation scandal as a ‘crime’ and called for the healing of victims just hours into the first full day of his U.S. tour.

The pope spoke about the sex scandal in front of a group of about 300 American bishops gathered for midday prayers at the Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC on Wednesday.

The prayer service follows a monumental speech in front of 15,000 at the White House South Lawn and a parade where the pope kissed babies and blessed others who had been waiting since before dawn to catch a glimpse of the leader of the Catholic church.

While his comments on the sex abuse scandal were sympathetic of church leaders, who have faced a mountain of bad press since the molestation scandal became a national issue in the early 2000s, Francis also appeared to be preaching that more can be done for the victims.

Pope Francis addressed the Catholic church's molestation scandal in America in his speech to U.S. bishops gathered at the Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC on Wednesday

Pope Francis addressed the Catholic church’s molestation scandal in America in his speech to U.S. bishops gathered at the Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC on Wednesday

Pope Francis read in Latin as he held the Midday Prayer Service at the Cathedral of St Matthew in Washington, before about 300 American bishops 

Pope Francis read in Latin as he held the Midday Prayer Service at the Cathedral of St Matthew in Washington, before about 300 American bishops

First lady Michlle Obama, Pope Francis and President Barack Obama pose for a picture on the White House portico after the pontiff spoke to a crowd on the White House South Lawn before 10am on Wednesday 

First lady Michelle Obama, Pope Francis and President Barack Obama pose for a picture on the White House portico after the pontiff spoke to a crowd on the White House South Lawn before 10am on Wednesday

After his speech on the White House's South Lawn, the pope joined the president in the Oval Office for a private meeting

After Pope Francis' private meeting with the president, he went outside in his pope-mobile to greet the tens of thousands of adoring fans who had been waiting since before dawn to catch a glimpse of the pontiff

‘I am…conscious of the courage with which you have faced difficult moments in the recent history of the Church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice.

‘Nor have you been afraid to divest whatever is unessential in order to regain the authority and trust which is demanded of ministers of Christ and rightly expected by the faithful.

‘I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you and I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims – in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed – and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated,’ the pope said.

The clergy sex abuse scandal erupted in the U.S. in 2002 and turned into the biggest crisis in the history of the American church.

Under enormous public pressure, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pledged to oust any guilty clergy from church work and enact safeguards for children.

 I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims – in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed – and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated.

However, the scandal persists, and victims say the bishops still haven’t fully accounted for sheltering abusers. This year, three bishops resigned in crises over their failures to protect children.

And those impacted by the pattern of abuse by priests did not react kindly to Francis’ sympathy with the leaders of the American Catholic church.

‘We’re sad that Francis claims US bishops have shown “courage” in the abuse crisis. Almost without exception, they have shown cowardice and callousness and continue to do so now. They offer excuses, exploit legal technicalities and hide behind expensive lawyers and public relations professionals, hardly the marks of courage,’ Barbara Dorris, of the Survivors Network of those Abuse by Priests,wrote in a statement following Francis’ comments.

‘We’re also sad that Francis can’t bring himself to call this crisis what it is – not “difficult moments in recent history,” but the continuing cover up of clergy child sex crimes by almost the entire church hierarchy,’ Dorris added.

Pope Francis arrives for the midday prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington on Wednesday. During the service, Francis expressed sympathy at the trials and tribulations the American church leaders have been facing over the molestation scandal

Pope Francis arrives for the midday prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington on Wednesday. During the service, Francis expressed sympathy at the trials and tribulations the American church leaders have been facing over the molestation scandal

Francis also discussed the issue of immigration in the U.S., advising his bishops to help migrants in their parishes

Francis also discussed the issue of immigration in the U.S., advising his bishops to help migrants in their parishes

The Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle is where funeral services were held for President John F Kennedy, after his 1963 assassination

The Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle is where funeral services were held for President John F Kennedy, after his 1963 assassination

Pope Francis spoke in Italian for the meeting, a language he is much more comfortable with. Bishops who do not speak the language used headphones to hear a translation 

There was some apprehension about the meeting between Pope Francis and the leaders of the American Catholic church, as many U.S. bishops have struggled to come to terms with Francis' new social justice-minded direction of the church 

There was some apprehension about the meeting between Pope Francis and the leaders of the American Catholic church, as many U.S. bishops have struggled to come to terms with Francis’ new social justice-minded direction of the church

In his address to bishops, the pope also spoke out against abortion, an issue close to the heart of Republicans, and against environmental devastation, a surefire applause line for Democrats. He spoke on behalf of immigrants, too, and pushed a few other hot buttons. All in one sentence.

 Know that [immigrants] possess resources meant to be shared. So do not be afraid to welcome them….I am certain that, as so often in the past, these people will enrich America and its Church.

He said: ‘The innocent victim of abortion, children who die of hunger or from bombings, immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow, the elderly or the sick who are considered a burden, the victims of terrorism, wars, violence and drug trafficking, the environment devastated by man’s predatory relationship with nature – at stake in all of this is the gift of God, of which we are noble stewards but not masters.’

Such positions will be placed in front of Congress on Thursday when Francis addresses lawmakers. Each position is a potential applause line, but not for everyone who will be there.

Pope Francis also encouraged U.S. bishops in their work with immigrants, praising them for taking up their cause and urging them to welcome more foreigners across the border.

Francis, who hails from Argentina, praised the bishops for defending the rights of migrants, helping them to prosper and keeping their faith alive. He said in his remarks Wednesday: ‘Now you are facing this stream of Latin immigration which affects many of your dioceses. Not only as the Bishop of Rome, but also as a pastor from the South, I feel the need to thank and encourage you. Perhaps it will not be easy for you to look into their soul; perhaps you will be challenged by their diversity.

‘But know that they also possess resources meant to be shared. So do not be afraid to welcome them. Offer them the warmth of the love of Christ and you will unlock the mystery of their heart. I am certain that, as so often in the past, these people will enrich America and its Church,’ the pope said.

U.S. bishops have been demanding a more welcoming policy toward immigrants in the country and hoping Francis’ visit will counter a divisive issue in the presidential campaign.

Tens of thousands of families and unaccompanied minors from Central America have surged across the border as violence has flared in the region. Many have been held in detention centers that the U.S. bishops and immigrant-rights advocates have decried as inhumane and ineffective.

Francis, who hails from Argentina, praised the bishops for defending the rights of migrants, helping them to prosper and keeping their faith alive. He said in his remarks Wednesday. Pictured above entering the cathedral for his meeting with the American bishops  

The pope looked positively ecstatic as he embraced equally giddy clergy members in the doorway. 

The pope looked positively ecstatic as he embraced equally giddy clergy members in the doorway.

The pontiff was surrounded by a sea of clergy members in black gowns as he walked to the altar of St Matthew's Cathedral on Wednesday

The pontiff was surrounded by a sea of clergy members in black gowns as he walked to the altar of St Matthew’s Cathedral on Wednesday

St Matthew's Cathedral, teeming with members of the clergy, only fits about 1,000 people. Tickets were handed out months ago

While most of his words were supportive on Wednesday, Pope Francis did have a piece of advice for U.S. bishops.

Pope Francis told U.S. bishops there is no place for ‘harsh and divisive’ rhetoric in their ministry, indicating he wants to see a change in tone after years of culture wars.

The pope is encouraging them to build relationships with anyone, no matter that person’s views on church teaching, and to do so with compassion.

He said in remarks to bishops Wednesday: ‘It’s not about preaching complicated doctrines, but joyfully proclaiming Christ who died and rose for our sake.’

HUGE CROWDS EXPECTED IN WASHINGTON, DC FOR POPE’S VISIT

The White House: 15,000

Parade to the Basilica: 18,000

Canonization Mass: 23,000

U.S. Capitol: 30,000

In recent years, the American bishops have dedicated increasing resources to opposing abortion, gay marriage and artificial contraception. As leaders of the nation’s largest denomination, they have become torchbearers for religious conservatives on these issues.

The bishops said they had to take up these fights because society and governments were increasingly accepting immoral policies.

But since the earliest months of his papacy, Francis has said the church had become too focused on divisive social issues and should instead focus on mercy. That has put Francis at odds with many of these American bishops, who were mostly appointed by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

After the pope’s sermon, some of the bishops stood and greeted him. The men removed their red caps before shaking his hand or kissing his ring. The pope could be seen talking to those greeting him while the rest of the church stood in silence.

But after about 10 minutes of that, Cardinal Donald Wuerl and the pope had a quick word, and Wuerl took to the microphone to say the pope had asked him to apologize for not having time to greet all of the bishops. The pope tapped his watch and smiled. The bishops and others clapped and chuckled

The pope started the first full day of his U.S. tour with a speech in front of 15,000 on the White House South Lawn, followed by a private meeting with President Obama and then a parade through the streets of the city.

President Obama sat behind the pope for the monumental speech, while prominent DC Catholics including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Ethel Kennedy were seated in the front row for the papal address.

A member of the security service brought a baby from the crowd for the pope to kiss as the motorcade went slowly toward the cathedral

A member of the security service brought a baby from the crowd for the pope to kiss as the motorcade went slowly toward the cathedral

A young girl was carried over to the pope-mobile for a kiss as the pope took care to show his appreciation for the crowds  who had waited hours to see him 

Pope Francis gives a thumbs up to the crowd as he rides down Constitution Avenue in his Popemobile in Washington on day two of his first visit to the United States

As ever, the pope's translator Monseigneur Mark Miles sat at his side in the open-side car. Miles also accompanied the pope into his meeting with the president Wednesday morning 

As ever, the pope’s translator Monseigneur Mark Miles sat at his side in the open-side car. Miles also accompanied the pope into his meeting with the president Wednesday morning

The pope was scheduled to speak at the White House at 9am, but was late after deciding to greet schoolchildren who had been waiting outside his residence in DC since before dawn to catch a glimpse of him. The pope hugged many in the crowd of cheering and clapping fans gathered outside the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See – otherwise known as the Vatican Embassy.

When he arrived at the White House in his humble Fiat, President Obama and First Lady Michele were waiting outside to welcome him for the special ceremony.

The president then led the pope to the south lawn where they stood as both the Pontifical Anthem and Star-Spangled Banner were played. After a military procession, President Obama stood up to the podium to introduce the pope.

‘Our backyard is typically not this crowded,’ the president joked in his opening comments. ‘The size and the spirit of today’s gathering is just a small reflection of the deep devotion of some 70million American Catholics.’

Mr Obama then went on to speak about the good work the pope has done in inspiring Catholics not only in America but around the world.

‘I believe the excitement around your visit must be attributed not only to your role as pope but your unique qualities as a person.

‘In your humility, your embrace of simplicity, the gentleness of your words and the generosity of your spirit, we see a living example of Jesus’ teachings,’ Mr Obama said.

PAPAL GREETING: POPE FRANCIS’ SPEECH AT THE WHITE HOUSE

‘Mr. President, I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families. I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people.

‘During my visit I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization.

‘Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise 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. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.

‘Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.

‘We know by faith that “the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.” As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home. The efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom. I would like all men and women of good will 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, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.

‘Mr. President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America!’

'Mr President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution,' Pope Francis said outside the White House Wednesday morning 

‘Mr President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution,’ Pope Francis said outside the White House Wednesday morning

In a rare move, the pope referenced specific legislation as he addressed the environment. He added that he will celebrate the institute of marriage on his trip. Though Francis has been hailed for progressive statements on homosexuality, he maintains children should have a mother and a father

In a rare move, the pope referenced specific legislation as he addressed the environment. He added that he will celebrate the institute of marriage on his trip. Though Francis has been hailed for progressive statements on homosexuality, he maintains children should have a mother and a father

U.S. President Barack Obama points alongside Pope Francis during an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn

Children take pictures of the pope, who chose to address the crowds in English despite struggling with the language

People wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington,DC. President Barack Obama will host Pope Francis at the White House for the first time Wednesday, warmly embracing the Catholic pontiff seen as both a moral authority and potent political ally

The U.S. Army's Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps performed for the president and the pope on the South Lawn before their speeches

Obama, pictured listening to the national anthem with the pope, opened his speech celebrating America's 70 million Catholics

The pope receives a personal tour of the Oval Office from President Obama after giving a speech to thousands

Inside the Oval Office: The pope and Obama had plenty to discuss in their meeting at the White House after laying out their agendas 

Inside the Oval Office: The pope and Obama had plenty to discuss in their meeting at the White House after laying out their agendas 

WHEN BARACK MET FRANCIS: THE PRESIDENT’S COMPLETE REMARKS

‘Good morning! What a beautiful day the Lord has made! Holy Father, on behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House. I should explain that our backyard is not typically this crowded – but the size and spirit of today’s gathering is just a small reflection of the deep devotion of some 70 million American Catholics. It reflects as well the way your message of love and hope has inspired so many people, across our nation and around the world. So on behalf of the American people, it is my great honor and privilege to welcome you to the United States of America.

‘Today, we mark many firsts. Your Holiness, you have been celebrated as the first Pope from the Americas. This is your first visit to the United States. And you are also the first pontiff to share an Encyclical through a Twitter account.

‘Holy Father, your visit not only allows us, in some small way, to reciprocate the extraordinary hospitality you extended to me at the Vatican last year. It also reveals how much all Americans, from every background and of every faith, value the role that the Catholic Church plays in strengthening America. From my time working in impoverished neighborhoods with the Catholic Church in Chicago, to my travels as president, I’ve seen firsthand how, every day, Catholic communities, priests, nuns, and laity are feeding the hungry, healing the sick, sheltering the homeless, educating our children, and fortifying the faith that sustains so many.

‘What is true in America is true around the world. From the busy streets of Buenos Aires to remote villages in Kenya, Catholic organizations serve the poor, minister to prisoners, build schools, build homes, operate orphanages and hospitals. And just as the Church has stood with those struggling to break the chains of poverty, the Church so often has given voice and hope to those seeking to break the chains of violence and oppression.

‘And yet I believe the excitement around your visit, Holy Father, must be attributed not only to your role as pope, but to your unique qualities as a person. In your humility, your embrace of simplicity, and the gentleness of your words and the generosity of your spirit, we see a living example of Jesus’ teachings, a leader whose moral authority comes not just through words but also through deeds.

‘You call on all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to put the “least of these” at the center of our concern. You remind us that in the eyes of God our measure as individuals, and our measure as a society, is not determined by wealth or power or station or celebrity, but by how well we hew to Scripture’s call to lift up the poor and the marginalized, to stand up for justice and against inequality, and to ensure that every human being is able to live in dignity – because we are all made in the image of God.

‘You remind us that “the Lord’s most powerful message” is mercy. That means welcoming the stranger with empathy and a truly open heart – from the refugee who flees war-torn lands, to the immigrant who leaves home in search of a better life. It means showing compassion and love for the marginalized and the outcast, those who have suffered, and those who cause suffering and seek redemption.

‘You remind us of the costs of war, particularly on the powerless and defenseless, and urge us toward the imperative of peace. Holy Father, we are grateful for your invaluable support of our new beginning with the Cuban people, which holds out the promise of better relations between our countries, greater cooperation across our hemisphere, and a better life for the Cuban people. We thank you for your passionate voice against the deadly conflicts that ravage the lives of so many men, women, and children, and your call for nations to resist the sirens of war and resolve disputes through diplomacy.

‘You remind us that people are only truly free when they can practice their faith freely. Here in the United States, we cherish religious liberty, but around the world at this very moment, children of God, including Christians, are targeted and even killed because of their faith. Believers are prevented from gathering at their places of worship. The faithful are imprisoned and churches are destroyed. So we stand with you in defense of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, knowing that people everywhere must be able to live out their faith free from fear and free from intimidation.

‘And, Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet – God’s magnificent gift to us. We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations.

‘Your Holiness, in your words and deeds, you set a profound moral example. And in these gentle but firm reminders of our obligations to God and to one another, you are shaking us out of complacency. All of us may, at times, experience discomfort when we contemplate the distance between how we lead our daily lives and what we know to be true, what we know to be right. But I believe such discomfort is a blessing, for it points to something better. You shake our conscience from slumber; you call on us to rejoice in Good News, and give us confidence that we can come together, in humility and service, and pursue a world that is more loving, more just, and more free. Here at home and around the world, may our generation heed your call to “never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope!”

‘For that great gift of hope, Holy Father, we thank you, and welcome you, with joy and gratitude, to the United States of America.’

Francis, the first pope born in the Americas, spoke in English to address those gathered for the monumental visit. While English is not the pope’s strongest language, he spoke slowly to make his opinions on climate change, international relations and religious tolerance clear.

He started off by thanking President Obama for his warm welcome to the U.S. and expressing his excitement on his coming days in America.

‘I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans,’ Francis said. ‘As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.’

‘I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people,’ the pope continued.

He also spoke about his upcoming speech to Congress. Pope Francis is scheduled to become the first pope to address the members of the House and Senate when he speaks at the Capitol building on Thursday.

‘During my visit I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles,’ he said.

He then spoke of American Catholics and the good work they have been doing in accordance with their faith.

‘Mr President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination,’ he said.

The pope then turned his speech towards climate change, telling President Obama that he finds it encouraging that he is proposing an initiative to reduce air pollution.

'In your humility, your embrace of simplicity, the gentleness of your words and the generosity of your spirit, we see a living example of Jesus’ teachings, a leader whose moral authority comes not just through words but also through deeds,' Obama told the pope

‘In your humility, your embrace of simplicity, the gentleness of your words and the generosity of your spirit, we see a living example of Jesus’ teachings, a leader whose moral authority comes not just through words but also through deeds,’ Obama told the pope

Obama offers the pontiff a seat before giving his much-anticipated speech to welcome him to America

'All Americans, from every background and of every faith, value the role the Catholic Church plays in strengthening America,' Obama said

As the American anthem played, the president placed a hand on his heart as the pontiff bowed his head

The pair stood before around 15,000 people on the South Lawn to hear the national anthems before each gives a speech

The president drew comparisons between himself and the pope, saying how he had worked in impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago. He also made reference to the poverty in the pontiff's native Argentina and his father's native Kenya

The president drew comparisons between himself and the pope, saying how he had worked in impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago. He also made reference to the poverty in the pontiff’s native Argentina and his father’s native Kenya

PRESIDENT OBAMA LAVISHES PRAISE ON POPE FRANCIS FOR HIS FIGHT AGAINST WAR, POVERTY, CLIMATE ISSUES

President Barack Obama praised Pope Francis on Wednesday for steering the world’s Catholics on questions of war, poverty and environmental protection, and pointedly thanked him for interjecting himself into domestic American debates, including the United States’ groundbreaking relationship with Cuba.

‘You remind us of the costs of war, particularly on the powerless and defenseless, and urge us toward the imperative of peace,’ Obama told the pontiff on his first visit to the United States.

The president lavished praise on Francis for setting out a social agenda that syncs neatly with his own policy on accepting Syrian refugees and relaxing America’s immigration policy for millions of people in the country illegally.

‘You remind us that “the Lord’s most powerful message” is mercy,’ Obama said. ‘That means welcoming the stranger with empathy and a truly open heart – from the refugee who flees war torn lands, to the immigrant who leaves home in search of a better life.’

 Much of Francis’ own agenda echoes what Obama brought to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2009

Francis introduced himself to Americans on the podium as ‘the son of an immigrant family.’

Obama’s message, though, was overtly political.

‘Holy Father, we are grateful for your invaluable support of our new beginning with the Cuban people, which holds out the promise of better relations between our countries, greater cooperation across our hemisphere, and a better life for the Cuban people.’

Aside from gay marriage, contraception mandates and abortion, hot-button social issues where the Vatican splits sharply with the White House, much of Francis’ own agenda is a carbon copy of what Obama brought to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2009.

The Pope is expected on Thursday to lecture Congress on climate change, immigration, income inequality and other issues that will make him an accidental proxy for the Oval Office.

 Obama praised the pope for shining a light on climate change, immigration, income inequality

‘You remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet – God’s magnificent gift to us,’ Obama said Wednesday.

‘We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations.’

The Pope responded by thanking Obama for ‘proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution, accepting the urgency.’

‘It seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. We still have the time to make the change needed for the responsible care of our common home.’

Francis is the first pope from the Americas and the third pontiff to visit the White House. He’s on a six-day swing through the United States with stops in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York.

‘We thank you for your passionate voice against the deadly conflicts that ravage the lives of so many men, women, and children; and your call for nations to resist the sirens of war and resolve disputes through diplomacy,’ Obama told him.

Michelle Obama was dressed in demure black lace, and the president in a simple black suit, to meet the Roman Catholic leader

Michelle Obama was dressed in demure black lace, and the president in a simple black suit, to meet the Roman Catholic leader.

The Obamas greeted the pope without their daughters Malia and Sasha, who are at school  

The Obamas greeted the pope without their daughters Malia and Sasha, who are at school

A Secret Service Agent looks on as Pope Francis departs the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington

A Secret Service Agent looks on as Pope Francis departs the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Washington

However, he made it clear that Americans and American Catholics in particular, need to do more to protect the environment.

It seems clear to me that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history.

‘Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation.

‘When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history.

‘We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change,’ he said.

The pope then invoked the spirit of Martin Luther King, perhaps hoping to appeal to American Christians at large, over the importance of saving the planet from global warming.

‘Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of the world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them.

‘Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities, our societies.

‘To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it,’ the pope said.

Pope Francis takes a photo with children, whose parents work at the Lithuanian Embassy, outside the Apostolic Nunciature

Pope Francis takes a photo with children, whose parents work at the Lithuanian Embassy, outside the Apostolic Nunciature

Well-wishers reach out to touch Francis' hand. The number of people given clearance to get near the pontiff is merely a fraction of those who applied

Well-wishers reach out to touch Francis’ hand. The number of people given clearance to get near the pontiff is merely a fraction of those who applied

Pope Francis takereceives a kiss, outside the Apostolic Nunciature on Wednesday

Pope Francis takereceives a kiss, outside the Apostolic Nunciature on Wednesday

In addition to climate change, the pope also acknowledged the president’s work in promoting world peace through diplomacy.

‘Mr President, the efforts which were recently made to mend broken relations and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom,’ the pope said.

Francis may have been referring to the recent warming of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, or the nuclear deal with Iran.

‘I would like all men and women of good will 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 so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children,’ the pope added.

The pope finished on a happy note, again thanking the president for this welcome and saying how much he was looking forward to meeting the American people.

‘Mr President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country,’ Pope Francis said. ‘God bless America.’

Joe Biden, Jill Biden, John Kerry and Ethel Kennedy are among some of the prominent DC Catholics who took their seats in the front row of the White House south lawn to hear the pope's first speech

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill, who both greeted the pope when he landed on Tuesday, await his arrival on Wednesday morning

US Secretary of State John Kerry walks with Ethel Kennedy before Obama addresses the crowds. Ethel Kennedy's brother-in-law John F Kennedy was the first Catholic president of the United States 

US Secretary of State John Kerry (right, in stripes) greets clergy as US Vice President Joe Biden (right) looks on before the arrival of Pope

US Secretary of State John Kerry (right, in stripes) greets clergy as US Vice President Joe Biden (right) looks on before the arrival of Pope

 People and security line the parade route for Pope Francis on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

People and security line the parade route for Pope Francis on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

Children wait for Pope Francis to emerge from the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

Children wait for Pope Francis to emerge from the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

Following the speech, Francis went back to the White House to pose for pictures on the portico with the president and Mrs Obama.

He then went to the Oval Office for a private meeting with the president, accompanied only by his translator Monsignor Mark Miles.

As Pope Francis and the president  spoke, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry – both Catholics – met with the the Vatican’s secretary of state.

After the Oval Office meeting,the pope took to his pope-mobile to greet the tens of thousands who had been waiting since before dawn to catch a glimpse of the pontiff along his parade route.

Just moments after driving out of the White House gate in his pope-mobile, a security guard picked up a small child from behind the fence and brought the toddler up to Pope Francis for a kiss and blessing.

The pope’s parade from the White House, around the Ellipse, and on to the Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle was the only non-ticketed event during his six-day, three-city U.S. tour.

At one point, a young girl carrying a yellow banner got outside the police barricade holding the crowds back and tried to approach the pope-mobile. She shied back when a bodyguard came near to pick her up and bring her to Francis. But then the pope gestured to her to come to him, and she allowed the bodyguard to pick her up and bring her to Francis for a papal kiss and blessing.

Francis is only the fourth pope to visit the United State while in office. While popes rarely visit America, every president since Dwight D Eisenhower has met a pope while in office, most visiting with the pontiffs at the Vatican.

Later in the day, the pope will journey to Catholic University where he will canonize a friar who brought the Catholic church to California.

The pope will give the mass for the canonization of Junipero Serra in Spanish for a crowd of 25,000 at the university’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. A temporary sanctuary has been constructed on the east portico of the basilica for the mass. This will be the first canonization of a Catholic saint to take place on U.S. soil.

Hundreds of spectators pass through a security check as early as 5 am along the parade route of pope Francis around the Ellipse, south of the White House, September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC 

Hundreds of spectators pass through a security check as early as 5 am along the parade route of pope Francis around the Ellipse, south of the White House, September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

Sailors in uniform take part in a procession before the pope's speech on the White House south lawn on Wednesday 

Sailors in uniform take part in a procession before the pope’s speech on the White House south lawn on Wednesday

Members of the armed services carry US and Vatican flags into the White House for the upcoming visit by Pope Francis, in Washington, DC, USA, 23 September 2015

Members of the armed services carry US and Vatican flags into the White House for the upcoming visit by Pope Francis, in Washington, DC, USA, 23 September 2015

Thousands of people begin to line the parade route that Pope Francis will follow along the National Mall September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

Thousands of people begin to line the parade route that Pope Francis will follow along the National Mall September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

Spectators hoping for a glimpse of Pope Francis waves Papal and U.S. Flags on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, before the official state arrival ceremony where President Barack Obama will welcome the pope.

Spectators hoping for a glimpse of Pope Francis waves Papal and U.S. Flags on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, before the official state arrival ceremony where President Barack Obama will welcome the pope.

Thousands of people begin to line the parade route that Pope Francis will follow along the National Mall September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

Thousands of people begin to line the parade route that Pope Francis will follow along the National Mall September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

Police officers stand guard along the parade route that Pope Francis will follow along Constitution Avenue near the National Mall September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

Police officers stand guard along the parade route that Pope Francis will follow along Constitution Avenue near the National Mall September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

Thousands of people begin to line the parade route that Pope Francis will follow along the National Mall September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Thousands of people begin to line the parade route that Pope Francis will follow along the National Mall September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.

School children wait for Pope Francis to depart the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington, Wednesday,September 23, 2015

School children wait for Pope Francis to depart the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Washington, Wednesday,September 23, 2015

Spectators hoping for a glimpse of Pope Francis crowd the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, before the official state arrival ceremony where President Barack Obama will welcome the pope

Spectators hoping for a glimpse of Pope Francis crowd the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, before the official state arrival ceremony where President Barack Obama will welcome the pope

A man holds up a Papal flag as he waits for Pope Francis departure from the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington, Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A man holds up a Papal flag as he waits for Pope Francis departure from the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Washington, Wednesday, September 23, 2015

People arrive early to get a spot along Pope Francis' parade route around the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, September 23, 2015

People arrive early to get a spot along Pope Francis’ parade route around the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, September 23, 2015

People arrive to get a spot along the parade route where Pope Francis will pass in his popemobile around the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, September 23, 2015

People arrive to get a spot along the parade route where Pope Francis will pass in his popemobile around the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, September 23, 2015

People gather early ahead of a papal parade featuring Pope Francis in Washington September 23, 2015

People gather early ahead of a papal parade featuring Pope Francis in Washington September 23, 2015

Metropolitan Police bicycle officers ride along the parade route that Pope Francis will follow near the National Mall September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

Metropolitan Police bicycle officers ride along the parade route that Pope Francis will follow near the National Mall September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

A Secret Service Agent places the Papal flag on a vehicle in preparation of Pope Francis departure from the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015

A Secret Service Agent places the Papal flag on a vehicle in preparation of Pope Francis departure from the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015

A Secret Service Agent wipes-down a motorcade vehicle as he waits for Pope Francis to depart the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in the heart of Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015

A Secret Service Agent wipes-down a motorcade vehicle as he waits for Pope Francis to depart the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in the heart of Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015

A Park Service Police Office cleans the windscreen of his motorcycle as he waits for Pope Francis departure from the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015

A Park Service Police Office cleans the windscreen of his motorcycle as he waits for Pope Francis departure from the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015

From the instant the white-robed and broad-grinned Francis landed in the U.S. on Tuesday, doffed his skullcap in the breeze and got into a modest, charcoal-gray Fiat, his visit electrified wonky Washington, which can be jaded about the comings and goings of world figures.

Washington was the first stop on the pope’s six-day, three-city visit to the United States.

People of all faiths wanted to be a part of it, from the hundreds on hand for his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base to the clumps of spectators outside the diplomatic mission where the pope was staying.

‘These moments matter,’ said May Lynne Duncan, who battled traffic from suburban Virginia to bring her two daughters to stand outside the nunciature.

For all of the oh-wow enthusiasm attending the visit, the pope and the president, with overlapping but far-from-identical agendas, had serious matters to attend to.

Even before he arrived for his first U.S. visit, Francis was fending off conservative criticism of his economic views. He told reporters on his flight from Cuba that some people may have an inaccurate impression that he is ‘a little bit more left-leaning.’

‘I am certain that I have never said anything beyond what is in the social doctrine of the church,’ he said.

As for conservatives who question whether he is truly Catholic, he added jokingly, ‘If I have to recite the Creed, I’m ready.’

Obama was anxious to add oomph to his own efforts to combat climate change, fight income inequality and promote social justice, among other things, by finding common cause with the pope. The two differ sharply on other issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

On Thursday, Francis planned to deliver the first papal address ever to Congress, speaking to Republican-majority legislators deeply at odds with Obama on issues such as gay rights, immigration, abortion and climate change. Those same issues are roiling the early months of the presidential campaign.

For all the focus on Francis’ speeches, his less scripted moments in meeting with immigrants, prisoners and the homeless could prove more memorable.

He was expected to meet with poor immigrants and other clients of Catholic Charities in Washington and with prisoners in Pennsylvania. He also is known to veer off schedule for unscripted encounters.

People position along a cleared Constitution Avenue along the Pope Francis parade route near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015

People position along a cleared Constitution Avenue along the Pope Francis parade route near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015

Spectators were gathered as early as 5am along the parade route south of the White House on Wednesday to catch a glimpse of the pope

Spectators were gathered as early as 5am along the parade route south of the White House on Wednesday to catch a glimpse of the pope

The pope will step into his popemobile for the parade after visiting President Obama at the White House. Above, more people waiting in line for security along the parade route 

The pope will step into his popemobile for the parade after visiting President Obama at the White House. Above, more people waiting in line for security along the parade route

People gather before dawn to await Pope Francis riding in the popemobile down Constitution Avenue in Washington DC on Wednesday 

People gather before dawn to await Pope Francis riding in the popemobile down Constitution Avenue in Washington DC on Wednesday

 People sleep on the pavement early Wednesday morning, as they wait to watch the pope's parade through Washington, DC 

 People sleep on the pavement early Wednesday morning, as they wait to watch the pope’s parade through Washington, DC

pectators wait as early as 5am along the parade route of pope Francis around the Ellipse, south of the White House, September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

pectators wait as early as 5am along the parade route of pope Francis around the Ellipse, south of the White House, September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

Nuns stand in line for a security check near the White House to get a glimpse of Pope Francis during a parade on the streets around the Ellipse, south of the White House, September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC 

Nuns stand in line for a security check near the White House to get a glimpse of Pope Francis during a parade on the streets around the Ellipse, south of the White House, September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC

A family sleeps before sunrise along Pope Francis' parade route on Constitution Avenue in Washington on September 23, 2015 

A family sleeps before sunrise along Pope Francis’ parade route on Constitution Avenue in Washington on September 23, 2015

Pope Francis waves as he arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland on Tuesday, September 22, 2015. The Pope is spending three days in Washington before heading to New York and Philadelphia. This is the Pope's first visit to the United States

Pope Francis waves as he arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland on Tuesday, September 22, 2015. The Pope is spending three days in Washington before heading to New York and Philadelphia. This is the Pope’s first visit to the United States

Pope Francis is scheduled to address Americans on the front lawn of the White House on Wednesday. Pictured above on Tuesday at the airport, being welcomed to the U.S. by President Obama  and his family 

Pope Francis is scheduled to address Americans on the front lawn of the White House on Wednesday. Pictured above on Tuesday at the airport, being welcomed to the U.S. by President Obama  and his family

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

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

Daily Mail

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