Pope Francis ' Arrival Ceremony

This story appears in the Francis in the United States feature series. View the full series.

by Michael Sean Winters

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Throughout the visit, I will be posting as quickly as possible with quick analysis about the papal visit. There were no speeches at the arrival ceremony at Joint Base Andrews a moment ago. Two items stood out. The President and Vice President brought their families. Sometimes, it is easy to forget what beautiful families both men have. I especially thought it was poignant that Mr. Obama brought his mother-in-law, seeing as the pope often speaks about the importance of grandparents. The other item came during the receiving line. The pope moved down the line, with the president at his side. He first greeted Cardinal Wuerl and the auxiliary bishops of Washington. When he came to Archbishop Kurtz, the president of the USCCB, the Holy Father turned to Obama as if to introduce the two men to one another, Anyone who thinks this pope does not have a sense of some of the church-state dynamics needs to rethink that assumption: It was utterly decimated in that one gesture. He knows exactly what is going on. The President seemed to laugh at the fact we needed the pope to bring the two together. From the camera angle, we could not tell Archbishop Kurtz's reaction.

On a personal note, my home lies in the flight path of Joint Base Andrews, and I could see the plane fly overhead as it approached the runway. I waved. I think the pope waved back. 

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