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The President Welcomes the Pope to the White House


(music) Male Speaker: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States and
Mrs. Michelle Obama. (applause) (music) (inaudible) (music) (applause) Male Speaker: Ladies and
gentlemen, the National Anthem of the Holy Sea
followed by the National Anthem of
the United States. (inaudible) ♪ (The National Anthem of
the Holy Sea playing) ♪ ♪ (The National Anthem of the
United States playing) ♪ (applause) (music) The President: Good morning. Audience: Good morning! (applause) The President: What
a beautiful day the Lord has made. Holy Father, on behalf
of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House. (applause) I should explain that
our backyard is not typically this crowded — (laughter) — but the size and spirit
of today’s gathering is just a small reflection of the
deep devotion of some 70 million American
Catholics. (applause) It reflects, as well, the
way that your message of love and hope has inspired
so many people across our nation and around the world. So on behalf of the American
people, it is my great honor and privilege to
welcome you to the United States of America. (applause) Today, we mark many firsts. Your Holiness, you have been
celebrated as the first Pope from the Americas. (applause) This is your first visit
to the United States. (applause) And you are also the
first pontiff to share an encyclical through
a Twitter account. (laughter) Holy Father, your visit not
only allows us, in some small way, to reciprocate
the extraordinary hospitality that you
extended to me at the Vatican last year. It also reveals how much
all Americans, from every background and every faith,
value the role that the Catholic Church plays in
strengthening America. (applause) From my time working in
impoverished neighborhoods with the Catholic Church
in Chicago, to my travels as President, I’ve seen
firsthand how, every single day, Catholic communities,
priests, nuns, laity are feeding the hungry, healing
the sick, sheltering the homeless, educating our
children, and fortifying the faith that
sustains so many. And what is true in America
is true around the world. From the busy streets of
Buenos Aires to the remote villages in Kenya, Catholic
organizations serve the poor, minister to prisoners,
build schools, build homes, operate orphanages
and hospitals. And just as the Church has
stood with those struggling to break the chains of
poverty, the Church so often has given voice and hope to
those seeking to break the chains of violence
and oppression. And yet, I believe the
excitement around your visit, Holy Father, must be
attributed not only to your role as Pope, but to
your unique qualities as a person. (applause) In your humility, your
embrace of simplicity, in 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. (applause) You call on all of us,
Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to put the “least
of these” at the center of our concerns. You remind us that in the
eyes of God our measure as individuals, and our
measure as a society, is not determined by wealth
or power or station or celebrity, but by how well
we hew to Scripture’s call to lift up the poor and
the marginalized — (applause) — to stand up for justice
and against inequality, and to ensure that every human
being is able to live in dignity — because
we are all made in the image of God. (applause) You remind us that “the
Lord’s most powerful message” is mercy. And that means welcoming
the stranger with empathy and a truly open heart — (applause) — from the refugee who
flees war-torn lands to the immigrant who leaves home
in search of a better life. (applause) It means showing compassion
and love for the marginalized and the
outcast, to those who have suffered, and those who
have caused suffering and seek redemption. You remind us of the costs
of war, particularly on the powerless and defenseless,
and urge us toward the imperative of peace. (applause) Holy Father, we are grateful
for your invaluable support of our new beginning
with the Cuban people — (applause) — which holds out the
promise of better relations between our countries,
greater cooperation across our hemisphere, and a better
life for the Cuban people. We thank you for your
passionate voice against the deadly conflicts that ravage
the lives of so many men, women and children, and
your call for nations to resist the sirens
of war and resolve disputes through diplomacy. You remind us that people
are only truly free when they can practice their
faith freely. (applause) Here in the United
States, we cherish religious liberty. It was the basis for so much
of what brought us together. And here in the United
States, we cherish our religious liberty, but
around the world, at this very moment, children of
God, including Christians, are targeted and even killed
because of their faith. Believers are prevented
from gathering at their places of worship. The faithful are imprisoned,
and churches are destroyed. So we stand with you in
defense of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue,
knowing that people everywhere must be able to
live out their faith free from fear and free
from intimidation. (applause) And, Holy Father, you remind
us that we have a sacred obligation to
protect our planet, God’s magnificent
gift to us. (applause) We support your call to all
world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable
to changing climate, and to come together to preserve
our precious world for future generations. (applause) Your Holiness, in your
words and deeds, you set a profound moral example. And in these gentle but firm
reminders of our obligations to God and to one another,
you are shaking us out of complacency. All of us may, at times,
experience discomfort when we contemplate the distance
between how we lead our daily lives and what
we know to be true, what we know to be right. But I believe such
discomfort is a blessing, for it points to
something better. You shake our conscience
from slumber; you call on us to rejoice in Good News, and
give us confidence that we can come together in
humility and service, and pursue a world that is
more loving, more just, and more free. Here at home and around the
world, may our generation heed your call to “never
remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope.” For that great gift of hope,
Holy Father, we thank you, and welcome you, with
joy and gratitude, to the United
States of America. (applause) His Holiness Pope Francis:
Good morning. Audience: Good morning! His Holiness Pope Francis:
Mr. President, I am deeply grateful for your
welcome in the name of the all Americans. As a son of an immigrant
family, I am happy to be a guest in this country,
which was largely built by such families. (applause) I look forward to these days
of encounter and dialogue in which I hope to listen to
and share many of the hopes and dreams of the
American people. During my visit, I will have
the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a
brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement
to those called to guide the nation’s political
future in fidelity to its founding
principles. I will also travel to
Philadelphia for the eighth World Meeting of Families to
celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and
the family at this critical moment in the history
of our civilization. (applause) Mr. President, together
with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are
committed to building a society which is truly
tolerant and inclusive, to and to rejecting every form
of unjust discrimination. (applause) With countless other people
of good will, they are likewise concerned that
efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society
respect their deepest concerns and the right
to religious liberty. (applause) That freedom reminds
one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the
United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called
to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve
and defend that freedom from everything that would
threaten or compromise it. (applause) Mr. President, I find it
encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for
reducing air pollution. (applause) Accepting the urgency, it
seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem
which can no longer be left to our future generation. (applause) When it comes to the care
of our common home, we are living at a critical
moment of history. We still have time to make
the change needed to bring about a sustainable and
integral development, for we know that
things can change. (applause) Such change demands on
our part a serious and responsible recognition not
only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our
children, but also to the millions of people living
under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been
part of this group of the excluded, which cries out
to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our
homes, our cities, our societies. To use a telling phrase of
the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we
have defaulted on a promissory note, and now
is the time to honor it. (applause) We know by faith that the
Creator does not abandon us; He never forsakes his loving
plan or repents of having created us. Humanity has the ability to
work together in building our common home. As Christians inspired by
this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the
conscious and responsible care of our common home. Mr. President, the efforts
which were recently made to mend broken relationships
and to open new doors to cooperation within our human
family represent positive steps along the path of
reconciliation, justice and freedom. I would like all men and
women of good will in this great nation to support the
efforts of the international community to protect the
vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral
and inclusive models of development — (applause) — so that our brothers and
sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and
prosperity which God wills for all his children. Mr. President, once again I
thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these
days in your country. God bless America. (applause) ♪ (singing Total Praise) ♪ (applause) (music)

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