In October 1979, Pope John Paul II went where no leader of the Roman Catholic Church had ever gone before: into the White House. Some of Washington’s most powerful figures, from members of Congress to the justices of the Supreme Court, gathered on the North Lawn to mark his arrival. Inside the White House, John Paul discussed the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with President Jimmy Carter and met the first family. The visit, which marked the last stop on a whirlwind U.S. tour for the pontiff, was only the second time a pope and a president had met on American soil.
The most recent time a pope visited Washington, he was celebrating his birthday. President George W. Bush had invited the newly 81-year-old Benedict XVI to the White House, where he was greeted on the South Lawn on a bright blue April morning in 2008 by a crowd of 13,500 people. The soprano Kathleen...
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