US President Barack Obama is set to welcome Pope Francis in what is the 78 year-old Catholic leader’s first ever trip to the United States. The Pope, who is expected to do a 5 ½ day visit to various cities of US, returns from a visit to Cuba where he met the President, Raul Castro and his predecessor, Fidel Castro, who was once a key figure in strengthening the communist rule in the South American country.
The Pope attended the papal Mass where he made a speech at Havana’s iconic Revolution plaza next to a portrait of revolutionary Che Guevara. The Pope’s speech was a subtle refutation of the country’s communist ideology by focusing on individuals instead of nations. He addressed the crowd with the following words:
“Service is never ideological, for we don’t serve ideas, we serve people. Don’t neglect them for plans which can be seductive but are unconcerned about the face of the person beside you. Let us not forget the Good News we have heard today: the importance of a people, a nation and the importance of individuals, which is always based on how they seek to serve their vulnerable brothers and sisters.
The Vatican had played a key role in reestablishing ties between United States and Cuba after a period of 53 years in 2014. Since then, both countries have established embassies in their capital cities. The question many are asking is, however, is how exactly is President Barack Obama benefiting from this?
The Pope is expected to visit Congress, the White House, and the United Nations and will be received by the President along with the First Lady, Michelle Obama, when he lands. He will then be welcomed by over 15,000 people to the White House on Wednesday, where a number of issues and discussions will take place between the two leaders.
The visit of Pope Francis will firstly be an ideal opportunity for President to showcase his attachment to the Christian religion in a time when the run up to the Republican presidential candidacy is met with frequent remarks over how President Barack Obama is an undercover Muslim president, serving the interests of Islamic leaders in the Middle East at the expense of those of US. Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who has received a lot of media attention over his doubts about President Obama’s birth certificate, once again made headlines when he did not correct one questioner for claiming the US president may actually be a Muslim.
Secondly, the visit of Pope Francis could help to consolidate the public opinion on issues relating to gay marriage, abortion, and birth control. Pope Francis has proved to be important for raising awareness of a variety of issues such as income inequality, climate change, and gay marriage. Although he has been viewed positively from the public following his lenient approach to gay-marriage, many Catholic priests in the US have not accorded him the same courtesy.
Many have regarded the views of the Argentine-born man, to be in stark conflict with the traditional teachings of the Christian doctrine.