Pope Francis arrives in US for historic visit

Pope Francis arrives in US for his first visit, following Cuba, plans to address US Congress as first pope ever

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US President Barack Obama (C) walks with Pope Francis as he welcomes him upon his arrival at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington September 22, 2015.

Updated Sep 23, 2015

Pope Francis arrived in United States on Tuesday for his first visit, he is expected to hold massive masses during his visit. He plans to deliver his message on a variety of issues, ranging from income inequality to immigration and climate change, as well as meet leaders over diplomatic missions.

The Pope landed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland following his flight from Cuba and was warmly welcomed by President Barack Obama alongside his family, in an unusual gesture, for the leader of the world's 1.2 billion members of Roman Catholic Church.

He was also warmly greeted by schoolchildren who gathered to welcome Francis as the plane descended. "We love Francis, yes we do. We love Francis, how about you?" they chanted.

Before his visit to the US, the first Latin American pope spent four days in Cuba, where he emphasized a progressive reconciliation between the Communist-run island and its capitalist neighbour.

In Cuba, the Pope met former and current leaders Fidel and Raul Castro and held masses that were attended by thousands. 

Pope Francis (L) and former Cuban President Fidel Castro hold hands in Havana, Cuba, September 20, 2015

Pope Francis had played an important role in mediating the reproachment between Cuba and the US, which resulted in reestablishment of diplomatic relations, following decades of hostility.

The Pope’s six-day agenda kicks off with Washington, followed by New York and Philadelphia.

Francis is expected to meet again with President Obama at the White House on Wednesday, and will also parade past Washington's major monuments in front of a crowd of about tens of thousands.

He will also address the US Congress on Thursday - the first time ever made by a pope - following a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday and an open-air Mass in Philadelphia, where 1.5 million people are expected to participate.

The pope has recently inspired the liberal-leaning US Catholics with his message towards forgiveness and care for underprivledged people. He has also shaken up some conservative members with deep messages over climate change and turned away from the church's ban on birth control messages and his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Another top issue for the Pope is expected to be on the immigration issue during his six-day visit, a topic for him since 2013.


TRTWorld and agencies