President Obama welcomed Pope Francis to the White House today as the Pope spoke before 11,000 ticketed guests at an elaborate welcoming ceremony on South Lawn of the White House as part of his historic visit to the United States.
“Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our ‘common home,’ we are living at a critical moment of history,” Pope Francis said.
“We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about ‘a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.’ (Laudato Si’, 13).
“Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them,” Pope Francis added. “Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.”
Earlier in the day, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greeted the Pope at the South Portico of the White House as he stepped out of his small and modest black Fiat, which he is using to make a statement of humility.
Francis said that the efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice, and freedom.
“I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children,” Francis said.