Democracy Now! - September 23, 2015

Pope Francis has kicked off his historic U.S. tour. During his six-day trip, Francis is expected to share his message of compassion and simplicity with the world’s richest and most powerful country. On Tuesday, both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden honored the 78-year-old pope by personally greeting him on the tarmac after his plane landed at Joint Base Andrews near the capital. This is the first time the Argentina native has ever stepped foot on U.S. soil. Hordes of devotees have flocked to Washington, D.C., in hopes of catching a glimpse of the pontiff during his stay. Today, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics will hold a formal meeting with President Obama for about 45 minutes alone in the Oval Office. On Thursday, Francis will make history, becoming the first pope to address a joint session of Congress. And on Friday, he will address the United Nations General Assembly in New York City before departing for Philadelphia on Saturday to deliver an open-air mass where 1.5 million people are expected to attend. The pope’s visit to the U.S. comes after a trip to Cuba, which he wrapped up by calling for a "revolution of tenderness."

Pope Francis’ decision to canonize the 18th century Spanish missionary Junípero Serra has drawn a strong protest from many indigenous groups. Serra founded nine of the 21 missions in California that later were the basis of what is now the modern state. Hundreds of thousands of people died after the missionaries arrived. According to historian Alvin Josephy, what happened in California "was as close to genocide as any tribal people had faced, or would face, on the North American continent." We speak to Valentin Lopez, chair of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. He’s been leading efforts to oppose Pope Francis’ decision to canonize Father Junípero Serra.

As Pope Francis begins a six-day U.S. trip, a group of 100 women, many of them undocumented, has arrived in Washington after marching 100 miles from a detention center in York, Pennsylvania, in order to greet the pope. The march was organized by We Belong Together, a national campaign co-founded by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. Organizers said the march is intended to send a message that families belong together and should not be separated by U.S. immigration policies. We speak to one of the marchers, Esmeralda Domínguez. She is recovering from bone cancer, and her primary caretaker is her husband, Jesús, who is undocumented.

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