President Obama Issues Congratulations & Vice President Biden Prepares Visit

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biden and obamaPresident Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, who are not Catholic, nonetheless joined in the congratulation, extending their “warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy.”

On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy.  As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years—that in each other we see the face of God.  As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day.  Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith.  We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world.

According to a senior U.S. government official, Vice President Joe Biden – America’s first Catholic vice president and the highest ranking Catholic official in the country – will lead the U.S. delegation to witness the installation of Pope Francis in Rome, CBS News Chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports. The White House has yet to announce the full delegation for the inauguration Mass, which will be held next Tuesday.

“I am happy to have the chance to personally relay my well wishes, and those of the American people, when I travel to Rome for his Inaugural Mass,The Catholic Church plays an essential role in my life and the lives of more than a billion people in America and around the world, not just in matters of our faith, but in pursuit of peace and human dignity for all faiths. I look forward to our work together in the coming years on many important issues.- Vice President Biden

After his meeting with the president, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, the highest-ranking Catholic in the U.S. Congress, said “Congratulations” to the new pope when asked about the selection today. “I am glad that they were able to come to a choice as quickly as they did,” he said. “Reaching out beyond the traditional continent of our Church is another big step in the right direction for the Church.”

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