On the morning of September 23rd, thousands of guests stood on the South Lawn to welcome Pope Francis to the White House. Both President Obama and Pope Francis gave brief remarks.
Following the Arrival Ceremony, President Obama and Pope Francis had a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office. President Obama thanked him for the ways in which he is inspiring people around the world to embrace justice, mercy, and compassion, particularly toward those who have been marginalized. The President and Pope Francis discussed their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues, including our moral responsibility to provide refuge for people who are forced to flee from their homelands; the belief that we have an obligation to seize the historic opportunity to end extreme poverty within a generation; the conviction that all members of the human family have equal value and infinite worth and should have the opportunity to realize safe and productive futures for themselves; the belief that reconciliation can happen not only between people but also between nations; the conviction that we must secure the unalienable right of all people to practice their faith according to the dictates of conscience, standing against those who would target people for violence, persecution, or discrimination based on their religion; and the duty to manage the resources of the earth today in such a way that will allow our children and grandchildren to live their lives abundantly tomorrow.
To mark this historic meeting and advance these shared values and objectives, the President is pursuing a variety of initiatives. To learn more about these initiatives, click here.
Melissa Rogers is Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.