The pontiff received a red-carpet welcome Tuesday from President Obama, Vice President Biden and their families as he opened his first visit to the United States.
The six-day visit will take the pope from Washington to New York and Philadelphia and feature several Masses celebrated before huge crowds, the first canonization on American soil, an address to Congress and “not a small degree of tension over his message,” says The New York Times.
Even as Newsweek asked on its cover, “Is the Pope Catholic?” Francis, in comments to reporters on the flight to the United States, rejected the idea that he is an anticapitalist leftist not committed enough to church teachings.
“I have never said anything that is not in the social doctrine of the church,” he said, alluding to speeches about the excesses of capitalism. “Maybe some things sounded slightly leftish, but that would be the wrong interpretation.”
The centerpiece of the pope’s Washington visit will be his address to a joint meeting of Congress — a first in American history — on Thursday morning at the invitation of Speaker John Boehner, a Catholic Republican from Ohio.
About 50,000 people have been invited to the West Lawn of the Capitol to watch the pope’s address on large television screens and maybe catch a glimpse of him waving from the speaker’s balcony.
Federal workers have been advised to telework during the pope’s visit, given expected congestion and road closures.
For locals still trying to figure out how to get around, here is the D.C. government’s website on the papal visit.
And here is the advice from D.C.’s troubled metro system. Among its travel tips: “Consider walking.”