Shepherd One, the Holy Father’s plane, landed at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland shortly before 4:00 p.m. EDT today (April 15). The cockpit of the plane was decorated with U.S. and papal flags waving in a strong breeze. The Holy Father disembarked with a huge smile and waves about ten minutes after the hour.
The Holy Father was met by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush and Church dignitaries, including the President and Vice President of the USCCB, the Apostolic Nuncio, and the Archbishops of Washington and of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. A colorguard representing each of the military services welcomed the Holy Father. President and Mrs. Bush were accompanied by their daughter, Jenna.
REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)
The Holy Father exchanged greetings with the welcoming party, but no public statements were made. The Holy Father then traveled by motorcade to the residence of the Apostolic Nuncio where he will spend the night.
- Pope tackles sex abuse, immigration, and religion in America, by John Allen Jr. NCRCafe April 15, 2008.
- FULL TRANSCRIPT OF POPE BENEDICT XVI's remarks aboard "Shepherd One"
- Eyewitness account of Pope's arrival from Tim Drake Pope2008.com.
- Pope Benedict greeted by Bush as he begins first U.S. visit Catholic News Service:
Although the two spoke privately for less than 10 minutes in a building on the air base grounds, neither Bush nor the pope delivered any formal remarks at the air base. The pope's official welcome was to take place the next day at the White House.
In their meeting, Pope Benedict sat at a small round table, and the pontiff accepted a glass of juice. The president sat on the pope's right and the first lady on the pope's left. Cardinal George and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, also were at the table.
It was the first time in his presidency that Bush had gone to Andrews to welcome any head of state. The air base has hosted more than 300 arrivals or departures by heads of state since 2006.
- John Thavis (Catholic News Service) reports that "The food was superb, the Alitalia passenger jet was impeccably outfitted, and Pope Benedict XVI gave reporters something to work with during their 10 hours in the air":
About nine hours before departure, a security sweep was made. About the same time, Alitalia chefs began cooking the meals to be served to the pope and the other 100 passengers.And what else did the Pope do during the flight?
The seating was hierarchical: The pope had a newly remodeled front section, his 30-member entourage came next, and reporters occupied the coach-class area of the aircraft.
The pope boards without much fanfare and typically spends a few minutes posing for snapshots with the Alitalia crew. The airline rotates pilots and other personnel on papal flights so everyone gets a chance at the honor.
An hour after takeoff, Pope Benedict came back to field reporters' questions. He seemed quite willing to talk, but the Vatican, on this flight, returned to a format of preselected questions, which gave the event a rehearsed feel. . . .
The Vatican considers the information private, but an Italian reporter recently divulged that the papal quarters on the plane include a worktable, a bed and a kneeler in front of a crucifix.
By all accounts, the pope is a model and undemanding passenger. The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, recently said the pope has no particular fear of flying. In fact, the pontiff went up in the cockpit on one recent trip to take a look at the instruments.The United States flag and the flag of the Vatican fly side-by-side along South Capitol Street
(AFP/GETTY IMAGES/Chip Somodevilla)
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