|Pope Francis greets the Obama and Biden family.|
The Obamas and Bidens shook hands with the Argentine-born pontiff as he made his way down a receiving line and was welcomed by young schoolchildren and warm cheers of "Hello, hey, hey, welcome to the USA."
Presidents rarely welcome foreign leaders at the airport, although President George W. Bush set a precedent when he met Pope Benedict XVI at Andrews in 2008.
Francis, 78, was whisked away in a small black Fiat 500L, headed for the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in northwest Washington, where scores of people waved Argentine flags from behind a barricade.
He greeted some of them briefly outside the nunciature before ducking inside.
The six-day visit is marking the popular and unpredictable pope's first time in the United States and includes a packed schedule through Washington, New York and Philadelphia. There are also unprecedented security measures in each city as throngs of Catholic faithful travel to see him.
Pope Francis wraps up his trip to Cuba.
Pope Francis is very popular among Catholics and non-traditionalist church goers.
Formerly known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio (December 17, 1936), Francis is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, a title he holds ex officio as Bishop of Rome, and Sovereign of the Vatican City.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio worked briefly as a chemical technician and nightclub bouncer before beginning seminary studies. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969 and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina's provincial superior of the Society of Jesus. He was accused of handing two priests to the National Reorganization Process during the Dirty War, but the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed. He became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. He led the Argentine Church during the December 2001 riots in Argentina, and the administrations of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner considered him a political rival.
Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, a papal conclave elected Bergoglio as his successor. He chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere and the first non-European pope since the Syrian Gregory III in 741.
Throughout his public life, Pope Francis has been noted for his humility, his concern for the poor, and his commitment to interfaith dialogue. He is known for having a humble approach to the papacy, less formal than his predecessors, for instance choosing to reside in the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse rather than the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace used by his predecessors.
In addition, due to both his Jesuit and Ignatian aesthetic, he is known for favoring simpler vestments void of ornamentation, including refusing the traditional papal mozzetta cape upon his election, choosing silver instead of gold for his piscatory ring, and keeping the same pectoral cross he had when he was cardinal. He maintains that the Church should be more open and welcoming. Although he considers poverty a huge problem, he does not support unbridled capitalism, Marxism, or Marxist versions of liberation theology.
Francis maintains the traditional views of the church regarding abortion, euthanasia, contraception, homosexuality, ordination of women, and priestly celibacy. Francis opposes global warming, consumerism, and irresponsible development, a focus of his papacy with the promulgation of Laudato si'. In international diplomacy, he helped to restore full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
The Pope is the leader of the Catholic church. Francis, who is of Argentine birth resides in Vatican City. The Vatican City is a tiny (heavily walled off) enclave country completely surrounded by the city of Rome, Italy.