Pope Francis Delays His Landing, Accepts Warm Welcome From Obama

Pope Francis (R) is greeted by U.S. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United …
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

As Pope Francis’s plane approached the landing strip at Joint Base Andrews, the pilots were asked to wait to land, perhaps because President Obama hadn’t arrived yet to welcome him.

The papal plane made several loops over North Carolina before returning to D.C., as evidenced by people watching the plane’s path on radar.

According to The Atlantic, a source on the ground explained that Obama and Vice President Joe Biden weren’t there yet for the greeting ceremony, forcing the pope to wait.

The president left the White House at 3:09 p.m. in his motorcade arriving at the Joint Base Andrews at 3:31 p.m.

According to the President’s schedule provided to the media, Obama was supposed to meet the Pope at 4:00 p.m., suggesting that Pope Francis may have arrived earlier than expected.

Obama walked out on the tarmac at 4:04 p.m., and there appeared to be no hard feelings from Pope Francis as he climbed down the stairs of his plane at 4:05 p.m. and shook Obama’s hand heartily.

In response, Obama bowed to Pope Francis, a frequent presidential gesture when meeting world leaders and important figures.

After shaking hands with Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, the Pope turned to greet their daughters and the Biden family.

Pope Francis departed the airport in a gray Fiat 500L and waved from the open window as he made his way to Washington D.C.

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