A Rare Personal Welcome By Obama For The Pope

A maintenance worker places metal barricades into place along the route Pope Francis will take in New York's Central Park, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. The Pope arrives in New York on Thursday after visiting Cuba and Washington, D.C.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

A maintenance worker places metal barricades into place along the route Pope Francis will take in New York's Central Park, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. The Pope arrives in New York on Thursday after visiting Cuba and Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

WASHINGTON -- The latest developments in Pope Francis' visit to Cuba and the United States. All times local:

2 p.m.

The White House says President Barack Obama's decision to greet Pope Francis personally when he arrives at a U.S. military base just outside Washington is a symbol of the high level of respect that Americans have for the pontiff.

Press secretary Josh Earnest says Francis is a source of inspiration not just for Catholics, but for people of all religions around the world who share the pope's values.

Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their wives will be at Andrews Air Force Base to welcome Francis on his first visit ever to the U.S.

There's also precedent for making the trip.

Then-President George W. Bush traveled to the base in 2008 when then-Pope Benedict XVI arrived on a U.S. visit.


1:50 p.m.

Pope Francis is popular, tends to wade into crowds and likes to travel in an open-sided Jeep.

Altogether, that means complications for U.S. law enforcement as authorities mount an enormous security operation to keep him safe in the United States.

In a six-day, three-city visit that starts late Tuesday afternoon, the pope will meet with President Barack Obama, address Congress, speak at the United Nations in New York and take part in a Vatican conference on families in Philadelphia. He concluded his visit to Cuba earlier in the day.

The security precautions could make it nearly impossible for many ordinary Americans to get close to the pope, and for many people to go about their business in those cities.

Francis goes to the White House on Wednesday morning. Some 15,000 people have been invited to the arrival ceremony on the South Lawn.


1:20 p.m.

The visit by Pope Francis to the U.S. will mark his second meeting with President Barack Obama.

They first met in March 2014 at the Vatican.

Afterward, the Vatican and the White House offered differing accounts of what the leaders discussed during their nearly hour-long meeting.

Obama stressed their common ground on fighting inequality and poverty while Vatican officials emphasized the importance to the Roman Catholic Church of what they called "rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection."

That point referred to a major disagreement over mandatory contraceptive coverage under Obama's health care law.


12:26 p.m.

Pope Francis has departed Cuba for a roughly three-hour flight to Washington after calling on islanders to live a "revolution of tenderness."

His words capped a four-day trip marked by warm interactions with Cuba's leaders and subtle critiques of the system they run.

At Sunday Mass in Havana, Francis urged Cubans to serve one another rather than an ideology. He encouraged them to refrain from "looking to one side or the other to see what our neighbor is doing or not doing." Those remarks resonated in a nation where the government controls most aspects of life.

He held what appeared to be friendly meetings with Fidel and Raul Castro, the former and current presidents of Cuba. Raul Castro has accelerated a warming with the church that began under his brother, and has spoken admiringly of Francis and his critiques of global capitalism.

The pope also spoke in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra mountains where Fidel Castro commanded a guerrilla army that swept to power in 1959.

Francis said Tuesday: "Generation after generation, day after day, we are asked to renew our faith. We are asked to live the revolution of tenderness as Mary, our Mother of Charity, did."


11:10 a.m.

In his final formal event in Cuba, the pope has called on Cubans to strengthen the bonds of family, which he calls "true spaces of freedom."

He says the breakup of families fragments societies or makes them uniform. He says that in both cases, "people turn into isolated individuals, easy to manipulate and to rule."

After the remarks at the Cathedral of Santiago, he's heading to catch a flight to Washington to begin the U.S. leg of his trip.


10:30 a.m.

Twitter has rolled out special emojis for users tweeting about Pope Francis' visit to the United States.

Tweets with the hashtag "PopeInUS" render an icon of a smiling, white-capped pontiff in front of a U.S. flag.

There are also emojis for (hashtag)PopeInDC - the U.S. Capitol; (hashtag)PopeInNYC - the Statue of Liberty; and (hashtag)PopeInPhilly - the Liberty Bell.

Francis wraps up a four-day Cuba trip today and flies north to the United States.


9:25 a.m.

Pope Francis has concluded his Mass at the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre outside the eastern city of Santiago.

The pope asked the Virgin to give Cubans "what they most desire and most need."

Two children gave him a copy of a century-old letter from islanders to Pope Benedict XV asking him to declare the Virgin the patroness of Cuba.

He now travels to the Cathedral of Santiago to bless families.


8:15 a.m.

Pope Francis is calling on Cubans to rediscover their Catholic heritage and live a "revolution of tenderness," highly evocative words in a country whose 1959 socialist revolution installed an officially atheist government that was long hostile to religion.

The pope says: "Our revolution comes about through tenderness, through the joy which always becomes closeness and compassion, and leads us to get involved in, and to serve, the life of others."



Pope Francis has come to the chief shrine to Cuba's patron saint for the final Mass of his visit to the island nation before heading to the United States.

President Raul Castro received the pontiff at the basilica of the Virgin of Charity in the town of Cobre.

Sep 22, 2:32 PM EDTAP


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