By Ann-Marie Adams I The Hartford Guardian
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama is expected to meet with His Holiness Pope Francis on his visit to America next Tuesday.
In preparation for the Pope’s visit, White House officials said in a phone call to reporters that they are looking to ensure that his visit “has lasting value” and will serve to elevate the aspirations of the Obama administration.
“This is a very unique visit. It’s quite different from any other type of visit that we would receive from a leader of a foreign government in the sense that the Pope is the leader of an incredibly important institution that is deeply valued by many, many Americans, and he’s also a prominent, if not preeminent, moral and spiritual leader around the world on a whole host of issues,” said Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes. “So we see this as an opportunity to continue our engagement with Pope Francis and the Vatican, but also to receive the visit of a leader who is incredibly important to many Americans and many people around the world.”
The president is also expecting to renew his talks that he started last March in Italy , said Senior Director for European Affairs and National Security Council Charlie Kupchan.
On Tuesday, the Pope will arrive at Andrews Airforce Base and will be greeted by the president, selected officials from the administration and local residents in Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will have an arrival ceremony for the Pope on the South Lawn of the White House.
Also on the pope itinerary is the Sept. 23 Mass for 25,000 people on the east portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception overlooking the University Mall at The Catholic University of America. During the Mass, the Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, the 18th century Franciscan missionary who founded missions and evangelized in California.
This will be the first canonization on U.S. soil.
Pope Francis will end his visit in America with a ceremony in Philadelphia. The ceremony will be hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden.
The Pope has been a leading voice for peace and for dialogue between people of different faiths and nations. He is scheduled to speak at the United Nations next week.