Throngs of people cheered as the plane bearing Pope Benedict touched down at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington on Tuesday, for the pontiff's first visit to the United States since he was elected head of the Roman Catholic Church.
President George Bush, First Lady Laura Bush and their daughter, Jenna, greeted Pope Benedict with handshakes as he stepped off the plane and onto a red carpet flanked by U.S. military personnel in dress uniform. The pope waved and extended his hand to waiting cardinals and other clergy members.
During the pontiff's six-day visit, he is scheduled to celebrate open-air masses in Washington and New York. He will also address leaders of Catholic colleges, meet representatives from other religions, and pray at the site where the World Trade Centers stood before September 11th, 2001.
Some experts believe the highlight of Pope Benedict's visit will be his speech to the United Nations on Friday.
While in the U.S., the pope will mark two personal milestones. His 81st birthday is Wednesday. This Saturday will mark the third anniversary of his election as pontiff.