Pope, Obama Meet at the White House With Thousands Watching
Both leaders spoke in front of an audience of thousands.
— -- Pope Francis met with President Obama at the White House today after giving addresses to a crowd of more than 10,000 gathered on the South Lawn.
The pontiff has now left the White House and started off in a procession from inside his "pope mobile" but only after he and President Obama spent some time alone in the Oval Office.
The papal visit officially started this morning when Pope Francis arrived at the White House.
People had been lining the streets of Washington D.C., hoping to catch a glimpse, since the very early hours of the morning.
President Obama was sure to welcome Pope Francis to "the people's house" even before the pontiff arrived, sending out a tweet to his official account.
The South Lawn of the White House was packed, where there were 11,000 ticketed guests not including White House staff, military, volunteers or press, according to a White House spokesman.
Pope Francis stopped and greeted fans outside the residence where he is staying before he got in the Fiat he is using during his Washington trip and headed over to the White House.
President Obama and first lady Michelle greeted the pope when he arrived, a few minutes later than expected. The two men then proceeded to the podium on the South Lawn, standing side by side while the Holy See's national anthem was played, followed by the U.S. national anthem.
President Obama praised the pontiff's humble nature.
"I believe the excitement around your visit must be attributed not only to your role as pope, but to your unique qualities as a person," Obama said. "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."
Pope Francis, who delivered his entire speech in English, drove home some political points early on, beginning by introducing himself as a son of immigrants. He quickly transitioned to discussing the importance of action when it comes to climate change, as well as helping the poor.
"Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution,” the pontiff said. “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.”
He added: “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.”