White House announces President and First Lady will greet Pope Francis at his arrival destination – a nearly unprecedented move
“The President and the First Lady will greet His Holiness Pope Francis on his arrival at Joint base Andrews in the United States on Tuesday, September 22, 2015,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
“As you all know, on Wednesday, the following day, September 23, the President and First Lady will welcome His Holiness Pope Francis to the White House. During the visit, the President and the Pope will continue the dialogue which they began during the President’s visit to the Vatican in March.”
Schultz added that the conversation between the President and the Pope will cover “their shared values and commitments to a wide range of issues.”
While it’s rare for President Obama to meet a foreign dignitary’s plane, the greeting of the Pope at the airport is not unheard of. In 2008, former President George W. Bush and First Lady, Laura Bush, met Pope Benedict at the same Maryland military base.
“I know that it is not necessarily routine for the President to greet a foreign leader at Andrews, but I do know there’s some precedent for it,” Schultz said. “President Bush met Pope Benedict XVI, with First Lady Laura Bush, in 2008 at Andrews. We felt like this was customary.”
“I think the President definitely wanted to do this.”
Pope Francis confirmed his visit to the United States in November and is scheduled to make appearances in New York and Philadelphia after his stop in Washington D.C.