Pope Francis has celebrated his first ever Mass in the United States on a day which saw him refuse to shy away from controversy.
Twenty-five thousand people gathered outside Washington’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception as the pontiff canonised America’s first ever saint the 18th century Spanish missionary Friar Junipero Serra..
It delighted Latino churchgoers but Native American groups accuse Serra of wiping out indigenous cultures.
Pontifex</a> will speak directly to Americans today as thousands gather in shadow of Washington Monument. <a href="http://t.co/Woo3IVXtob">http://t.co/Woo3IVXtob</a></p>— CNN Breaking News (cnnbrk) September 23, 2015
Earlier Pope Francis had been welcomed at the White House by President Barack Obama and his family. During his first direct address to the nation the Pope touched on issues such as immigration – calling himself the son of an immigrant – and lauded the president’s efforts to protect the environment.
“Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that “climate change“http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/23/pope-francis-climate-change-white-house-speech is a problem we can no longer be left to our future generation,” he said.
It all went down well with the White House audience but other Americans have said the Pope is staying too far from his religious brief.
Our correspondent Stefan Grobe summed up the day:
“The pontiff’s visit has not escaped the nasty divisions of political Washington. Democrats believe they now have a pope who is on their side on hot topics like Iran, Cuba, climate change and economics – which makes Republicans angry. The perfect setting for the papal address before Congress this Thursday.”
The Pope arrived in the US on Tuesday (September 22) After Washington DC he will visit New York and Philadelphia.