Wednesday morning, Pope Francis arrived at the White House to speak with President Obama and to give remarks on our ever changing world. The People Pope was speaking at the People’s House. Pope Francis didn’t wait for formality, as he left for the White House, he stopped to greet and speak to the many who were waiting for a glimpse of His Holiness. In this digital age, students greeted the Pope by capturing selfies of themselves with the Pope. He spoke to, hugged and posed for the photos with great excitement. Those waiting at the White House had to a bit patient as they were now on Pope Time. The Secret Service had to be flabbergasted by the Pope’s relaxed wanderings but the crowd, some had waited since last night, were enraptured by the appearance.
At the White House the Pope’s public remarks were of a political and of a religious nature. The Pope began that he was excited to listen to “hopes and dreams of the American people” and to offer guidance to those charged with shaping the nation’s political future “in fidelity to its founding principles.” In what may have been seen as a political moment, the Pope spoke about our environment and global warming. The Pope applauded President Obama, “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 that can no longer be left to a future generation.” Continuing on world events the Pope spoke of the refugee problem and immigration issues reminding all that he himself is the son of immigrants. He continued that as a nation of prosperity, “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.”
The President, in his remarks, thanked the Holy Father 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.” Continuing President Obama stated to the Pope, “We have a sacred obligation to protect our planet.” The President conclude his remarks on the environment with, “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.” Later, the Pope will leading prayers at a Washington cathedral before celebrating an open air Mass in the evening. Thursday, the Pope will address the joint meeting of Congress. In his closing statements the Pope called on the memory of American Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, “To use a telling phrase of the Rev. Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.”