Adoring crowds greet pope in nation's capital

NTP: Adoring crowds greet pope in nation's capital
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Adoring crowds greet pope in nation's capital
Pope Francis arrives before addressing the joint session of Congress on September 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Pope is the first leader of the Roman Catholic Church to address a joint meeting of Congress, including more than 500 lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and top administration officials including Vice President Joe Biden. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Huge crowds of admirers and fans gave Pope Francis an enthusiastic reception in the nation's capital on Wednesday, beginning with the thousands who packed the South Lawn of the White House.

President Barack Obama welcomed Pope Francis to the White House. The clear blue sky and mild temperatures reinforced Obama's first words: "Good morning. What a beautiful day the Lord has made!"

Pope Francis asked Americans to support efforts to help the world's most vulnerable people and said it's clear to him that climate change is a problem that can no longer be left to a future generation.

Cheering crowds jammed the parade route along Constitution Avenue as Francis made a leisurely loop around the streets near the White House. He paused twice to have babies brought to him, and he kissed their heads.

Spectators came from all walks of life and from throughout the country to see the pope during his first visit to the United States. They spoke glowingly of his humility and his focus on taking care of the less fortunate.

The pope maintained a packed schedule, attending a worship service with church bishops and celebrating an outdoor Mass.

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