WASHINGTON — With over 11,000 ticketed guests gathered on the South Lawn, Pope Francis made his first-ever visit to the White House Wednesday morning, and called on the world to defend religious liberties and take better care of the environment before going to the Oval Office for a private meeting with President Barack Obama.
The leader of the Catholic Church was welcomed to the White House by the president and first lady Michelle Obama. After the playing of the Holy See's national anthem, the U.S. national anthem, and a short speech by Obama, the pope made his first direct address to the American people and challenged all Americans to be "vigilant" defenders of religious liberty.
"Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination," the pontiff asserted. "With countless other people of goodwill, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and the right to religious liberty." more >>
The following remarks were delivered by President Barack Obama and Pope Francis during the Wednesday ceremony welcoming Pope Francis to the White House.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good morning.
AUDIENCE: Good morning! (Applause.) more >>
The Obama administration maintains that its principal strategic response to the conflict in Syria is humanitarian, not military, and focused on human rights. In Syria as well as Iraq, the consequences of this policy have been shockingly deficient.
The West is only now beginning to wake up to its catastrophic results, as Europe struggles with a mass migration of a magnitude the continent has not experienced since the 1940s.
In April, Assad began intensifying the barrel bombing of Aleppo and Damascus's Sunni neighborhoods while streamlining the passport process. In June, the U.N. was forced, unconscionably, to slash Syrian refugee food rations for lack of funding. Whether it was then, or when human traffickers began operating rickety craft from the port of Izmir, Turkey — leading to some 3,000 drownings — at every juncture, the administration failed to lead a serious effort to mitigate the suffering. This explosion has been building for years. The administration slumbered instead of coordinating an effective allied effort to head off a dangerous and chaotic westward surge of hundreds of thousands, potentially tens of millions, of oppressed and poor migrants, with some terrorists among them. more >>
The U.S. Senate failed to move forward on a bill that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks gestation, when a fetus can feel pain.
Known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the bill failed on Tuesday morning to receieve the necessary 60 votes to advance to a vote.
"What I am asking every colleague is this: look in your hearts and help us stand up for the most innocent life," said Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in advance of the vote. more >>
Vice President Joe Biden, a Roman Catholic, said that while he accepts the Church's position that life begins at conception, he will not share his position with others who do not have the same beliefs.
"I'm prepared to accept that at the moment of conception there's human life and being, but I'm not prepared to say that to other God-fearing, non-God fearing people that have a different view," Biden told Father Matt Malone, S.J., editor in chief of America magazine, in an interview published on Monday.
Biden admitted that it has been hard to reconcile the Democratic Party's support for abortion rights with Catholic doctrine, but explained that he cannot impose a "precise view" stemming from his own faith on others. more >>
A representative of the Vatican said that the Roman Catholic Church is not concerned with the controversy over the White House inviting pro-gay and pro-choice individuals to meet Pope Francis when he visits the nation's capital.
Father Thomas Rosica, a Vatican adviser and spokesman, was asked by Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday about the recent guest list controversy.
"The administration has reportedly invited some transgender activists, the first openly gay episcopal bishop to come to the meeting, but so far there's no word that he — that they have invited some of the leaders of the pro-life movement to the welcoming ceremony," noted Wallace. more >>