President Obama and Vice President Biden greeted Pope Francis on Tuesday, as the Holy Father landed at Andrews Air Force Base for a historic six-day visit to the United States.
It’s the first visit to the United States for the popular pope, who was greeted with the pomp and circumstance of a papal visit and the raucousness of a football game.
“We love Francis, yes we do. We love Francis, how about you?!” chanted the crowd, which included school children from local Catholic schools.
The pope walked off his aircraft at 4:05 p.m. and onto a red carpet lined by a military honor guard and a gathering of Catholic bishops. He shook hands with Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, Sasha and Malia.
Francis also greeted Vice President Biden, who is Catholic, his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and their granddaughters, Maisy and Finnegan.
Francis left Andrews in a Fiat with the license plate SCV1.
The pope’s three-city U.S. tour includes a meeting with Obama at the White House, speeches to Congress and the United Nations and a ceremony in Philadelphia that’s expected to draw more than one million people.
The White House has sought to stress areas where the pope and Obama agree, such as global warming, income inequality and diplomacy with Cuba. But spokesman Josh Earnest downplayed the political import of Francis’s visit.
“This is not a meeting between politicians, and this is not an effort to advance anybody's political agenda,” Earnest said Tuesday. “But rather it's an opportunity for two respected world leaders, with significant influence around the globe, to spend some time talking about the values that they hold in common and to do so in an atmosphere of respect.”