Pope Francis arrives in U.S. for historic visit

Updated 5:49 AM EDT, Wed September 23, 2015
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22:   (AFP OUT) Pope Francis departs in a Fiat after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope.  (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (AFP OUT) Pope Francis departs in a Fiat after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis gives his speech during his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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MALMO, SWEDEN - OCTOBER 31:  Pope Francis gives a speech during the 'Together in Hope' event at Malmo Arena on October 31, 2016 in Malmo, Sweden. The Pope is on 2 days visit attending Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration in Lund and Malmo.  (Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images)
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On Sunday (April 15) Pope Francis comforted a child who lost his father during a visit to a poor district of Rome, saying God has a "dad's heart".
During a meeting Francis answered questions from children and one of them, Emanuele, was too shy to speak at the microphone so the pontiff decided to invite him onto stage. The child started crying and hugged Francis and whispered his question into the pope's ears, saying he was afraid that his father, who was an atheist, could not go to heaven.
Francis comforted Emanuele and said that it is God who decides who goes to heaven and that, since God has a 'dad's heart', he will not abandon the boy's dad, even if he was not a believer.
The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics visited the parish of St. Paul of the Cross in Rome's Corviale neighbourhood and met with children of the poor district of the Italian capital and celebrated Mass for the parish community.
Reuters
On Sunday (April 15) Pope Francis comforted a child who lost his father during a visit to a poor district of Rome, saying God has a "dad's heart". During a meeting Francis answered questions from children and one of them, Emanuele, was too shy to speak at the microphone so the pontiff decided to invite him onto stage. The child started crying and hugged Francis and whispered his question into the pope's ears, saying he was afraid that his father, who was an atheist, could not go to heaven. Francis comforted Emanuele and said that it is God who decides who goes to heaven and that, since God has a 'dad's heart', he will not abandon the boy's dad, even if he was not a believer. The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics visited the parish of St. Paul of the Cross in Rome's Corviale neighbourhood and met with children of the poor district of the Italian capital and celebrated Mass for the parish community.
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Pope Francis marries flight attendants Carlos Ciuffardi, left, and Paola Podest, center, during a flight from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique, Chile, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Pope Francis celebrated the first-ever airborne papal wedding, marrying these two flight attendants from Chile's flagship airline during the flight. The couple had been married civilly in 2010, however, they said they couldn't follow-up with a church ceremony because of the 2010 earthquake that hit Chile. (L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP)
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Pope Francis marries flight attendants Carlos Ciuffardi, left, and Paola Podest, center, during a flight from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique, Chile, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Pope Francis celebrated the first-ever airborne papal wedding, marrying these two flight attendants from Chile's flagship airline during the flight. The couple had been married civilly in 2010, however, they said they couldn't follow-up with a church ceremony because of the 2010 earthquake that hit Chile. (L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP)
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Charlene, Princess of Monaco (2-L) kisses the hand of Pope Francis, as her husband Prince Albert II of Monaco (L) looks on prior to a private audience with the pontiff at the Vatican on January 18, 2016.     / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE        (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 29:  Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the the end of Palm Sunday Mass on March 29, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. On Palm Sunday Christians celebrate Jesus' arrival into Jerusalem, where he was put to death. It marks the official beginning of Holy Week during which Christians observe the death of Christ before celebrations begin on Easter.  (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 29: Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the the end of Palm Sunday Mass on March 29, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. On Palm Sunday Christians celebrate Jesus' arrival into Jerusalem, where he was put to death. It marks the official beginning of Holy Week during which Christians observe the death of Christ before celebrations begin on Easter. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
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Obamas, Bidens travel to Air Force base to meet Pope

Instead of limousine, Francis left in small Fiat hatchback

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Pope to address Congress on Thursday

Washington CNN —  

Pope Francis landed on U.S. soil for the first time just before 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, launching a six-day visit that will highlight his love for the poor and his willingness to tackle the nation’s most significant political, social and economic controversies.

In an unprecedented welcome for a foreign dignitary, President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, along with Vice President Joe Biden and his family, traveled to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington to greet the pontiff, who arrived from Cuba.

The flags of the United States and the Vatican flapped from the cockpit windows of the pope’s chartered Italian jet as it rolled to a stop near a line of priests in black and red robes and a group of children from local Catholic schools.

The Argentine-born Pope appeared at the top of the stairs of the plane in a white cassock, smiled and removed his skullcap so it would not be blown away by the wind. Obama greeted him at the foot of the steps with a handshake and a warm smile.

The crowd chanted “Ho Ho, Hey, Hey Hey, Welcome to the U.S.A.” as Francis became the fourth head of the Catholic Church to visit the United States, nearly 50 years after Paul VI made the first visit by a pontiff to the country in October 1965.

On the plane en route to the United States, Francis told reporters, including CNN’s Rosa Flores, that he was happy to make his first U.S. visit. He dismissed suggestions that he was a socialist or a “lefty,” saying that despite his warnings of the inequities in the global economic system, his beliefs were consistent with the established social doctrine of the Church.

READ: Pope Francis’ remarks at the White House

After a brief private meeting with Obama in a VIP suite, the pope climbed into a black Fiat hatchback car with the number plate SCV 1, which was much smaller than the limousine foreign visitors normally take in Washington – in keeping with his rejection of much of the pageantry that accompanies the papacy and his desire to live a humble life. After a busy few days in Cuba, Francis has no scheduled events on Tuesday night and will remain at the residence of the Apostolic Nuncio or Vatican ambassador to the United States.

Obama will roll out an official welcoming ceremony for Francis on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday. The pope will then parade through downtown Washington in his Popemobile, with thousands of people expected to line the sidewalks. He’ll hold a canonization later in the day at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.