Tuesday marks an historic day for the current pope. Now that Pope Francis has arrived in Washington D.C., he is making his very first visit to the United States. The Pope is in the country for a six-day stay, which is commencing in D.C. before taking him to New York and finally Philadelphia. The Pope is making multiple stops in each state, and is expected to meet with Congress, visit historical sites, and give Mass at various Catholic churches. After his visit to the U.S. ends on Sunday, the Pope will return to Rome. This visit has been anticipated for months, and many are eager to see Pope Francis and hear him speak — though there are also multiple groups scheduling protests or demonstrations to coincide with the visit.
The Pope arrives in the U.S. after spending a short time in Cuba, where he commended Catholic Cubans for keeping the religion alive among themselves during Castro's time in power, when the country was not especially friendly toward any religion. For his U.S. visit, faithfuls are hopeful that the Pope will carry with him some of his more non-traditional opinions, and some are eager to hear whether he will offer critiques of the U.S.' economic policies and capitalistic ideals.
Many are excited for the Pope's visit, and the opportunity to either meet with him or even glimpse him from afar. But there are some issues looming over the visit, many of which relate to the Pope's comments throughout the last couple of years in which he has gone against the grain of traditional Catholic dogma. According to Time, an anonymous senior official with the Vatican expressed concern that a gay Episcopal bishop would be in attendance at the White House's welcome ceremony for the Pope. Time also reported that Representative Paul Gosar from Arizona, who is himself a Catholic, is planning to sit out during the Pope's remarks to Congress, in protest of the Pope's stance on climate change.
Many have noted that Francis' first trip to the United States falls at a time when (while it's still over a year out) the presidential election dominates the news cycle and is on everyone's minds. In a press conference about the papal visit, the White House denied that there was any political agenda behind the Pope's visit.