The Catholic Pope Francis who is visiting the United States of America for the first time began his first full day in the U.S. by attending a ceremony and speaking to the crowds from the White House lawn, along with President
“I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans,” the pope said in his first address. “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.”
Besides mentioning the current administration’s efforts to combat climate change, the pontiff spoke on religious liberty, saying, “With countless other people of goodwill, [American Catholics] 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 reminds one of America’s most precious possessions… all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.”
Pope Francis briefly met behind closed doors with President Obama, then joined a procession in his “pope-mobile” which moved among the crowds lining the outside of the White House grounds, and on the National Mall.
He will celebrate a Mass of canonization for 17th century missionary Junipero Serra, as well as meet with America’s bishops’ conference.