Pope touches down in the US
Pope Francis landed to a red carpet welcome at the Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, as part of his 6-day visit to the US. Bestowing on Francis an honor that few dignitaries receive, President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, along with Vice President Joe Biden and his family, personally greeted him. Pope arrived here, after concluding the visit to Cuba.
About Pope Francis
Pope Francis is the 266th and the current Pope of the Catholic Church, a title he holds ex-officio as the Bishop of Rome, and Sovereign of the Vatican City. Born as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Throughout his public life, Pope Francis has been noted for his humility, his concern for the poor, and his commitment to interfaith dialogue.
Schedule of Pope's visit
Pope will be in the US from 22-27 September, during which he will hold a canonization at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, on 23rd. He will meet the UN General Assembly and hold a service at 9/11 Memorial Museum on 25 September. On 26th and 27th, Pope will be in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.
What is the World Meeting of Families?
World meeting of Families is the largest meeting of Catholic families held every three years. The theme of this year's meeting is "Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive," emphasizing the impact of the love and life of families on our society.
Pope says he is not liberal
Known for his criticism on capitalism and emphasis on 'legitimate' redistribution of wealth, Pope Francis has often been labelled as leftist by many. On his flight to the US, he addressed these claims and said he's only teaching what the Church promoted throughout history. He said, "Some people might say some things sounded slightly more left-ish, but that would be a mistake of interpretation."
First-ever US visit
The visit by Pope Francis will be the first time he sets foot on the US soil and a fourth time for a Pope. The first to visit the U.S. was Pope Paul VI in 1965.
Pope in Cuba
During his 4-day visit to Cuba from 19-22 September, the Pope refrained from making overtly political statements. He only made veiled criticisms of the regime in Cuba. He called upon President Raul Castro and the US government to further the process of reconciliation between the two countries. Pope Francis concluded his visit by travelling to the shrine of the country's patron in El Cobre.
Controversies surrounding Pope's visit
While in Washington, Pope Francis will canonize Father Junípero Serra, an 18th century Spanish missionary. Critics have condemned the move, arguing that Serra was part of the Spanish colonization effort that decimated the native population. Apart from this, Pope's stand on various contentious issues like Cuban embargo, capitalism, immigration, death penalty, gay marriage, abortion, climate change, etc would likely draw both praise and criticism.