President Barack Obama welcomed Pope Francis to the White House Wednesday morning to loud cheers from thousands gathered to greet the leader of the Catholic church—in a city that has virtually shut down for the historic event. The ceremony marks the first time that Pope Francis has visited the United States and kicks off a much anticipated three-city tour that includes Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City.
During his first address in the United States, Francis pulled no punches when talking about one of the defining issues of his leadership, calling on Americans to protect our “common home” and act on climate change with a sense of urgency—a stance that many Republicans have criticized.
“It seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation,” Francis said, in slow but forceful English.
“We know by faith that the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.”
He is scheduled to speak before Congress on Thursday, where he is expected bring his climate agenda directly to lawmakers.
President Obama also took the opportunity to praise Francis’s stance on climate change, telling the pope: “you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet—God’s magnificent gift to us.” Watch below: