Why the Pope is Coming to D.C. and What to Expect


Citizens of the United States are anticipating what to expect after the Pope arrived in Washington, D.C. late Tuesday afternoon. Many are getting excited and the man that has stood outside the Apostolic Nunciature (the Vatican Embassy) every day for at least 17 years calling the Catholic Church cowardly is probably ecstatic as well.

Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday from Cuba at 4 pm at Joint Base Andrews, amid a crowd of spectators.

On Wednesday the Bishop of Rome, as Pope Francis likes to call himself, will meet with President Obama in the morning. Next on the schedule is the Papal Parade along the Ellipse and the National Mall at approximately 11 a.m. This is where everyone who wants to see the Pope will most likely get a chance to catch a glimpse.

Courtesy of the Washington Post
Courtesy of the Washington Post

Next up is a midday prayer with the bishops of the United States at St. Matthew’s Cathedral followed by the canonization of Junipero Serra, a priest who founded missions all across California in the 1700s. This canonization is under scrutiny by some who believe that Serra unfairly enforced Christianity on Native Americans living in the state during that time.

Thursday is the Pope’s last day in D.C. before he embarks to New York. He will start the day by giving an address to the Joint Meeting of the United States Congress meaning he will address both the House and the Senate. His last activity in this city is a visit to St. Patrick in the City and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. By 4 p.m., Pope Francis will depart from his point of arrival, Joint Base Andrews.

Alisa Zacharia, a member of the University of Maryland Catholic Student Union, is excited for the Pope’s visit.

“I’ve been waiting and preparing seven years for this. I got tickets to greet the Holy Father at Andrews Air Force base and witness the canonization mass on Wednesday,” she stated.

Bridget Pacheco, a Catholic student at the University of Maryland but not part of the Catholic Student Union, is also anticipating the visit by the Pope: “I am so excited! My little sister is going to see him.”

This will be Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States, unlike the past two Popes, Benedict XVI and John Paul II, who traveled to the US before rising to the papacy, according to the New York Times.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrating Mass at Washington National’s Stadium in 2008 Courtesy of Associated Press
Pope Benedict XVI celebrating Mass at Washington National’s Stadium in 2008.
Courtesy of Associated Press

This is mainly due to his cultural background. He is from a South American country (Argentina) with an Italian background, speaks Spanish but does not speak English very well. Pope Francis, after 78 years of avoiding the US, is most likely visiting due to the fact that this country has the fourth largest Roman Catholic population.

Expect traffic delays, huge crowds, but a Pope that is just as nervous as the US is for his arrival.

Check out these websites established solely to give information regarding the Pope’s visit.

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