WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest developments in Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. All times local:

11:40 p.m.

Pope Francis has praised U.S. bishops for their response to the clergy sex abuse crisis.

Speaking before the bishops Wednesday at a worship service in Washington, Francis lauded them for what he called their “generous commitment to bring healing to victims.” He praised them for having courage and acting, as he saw it, “without fear of self-criticism.”

The clergy sex abuse scandal erupted in the U.S. in 2002 and turned into the biggest crisis in the history of the American church.

Under enormous public pressure, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pledged to oust any guilty clergy from church work and enact safeguards for children.

However, the scandal persists, and victims say the bishops still haven’t fully accounted for sheltering abusers. This year, three bishops resigned in crises over their failures to protect children.


11:30 p.m.

Pope Francis has issued special greetings to the Jewish community in the U.S. for Yom Kippur.

He did so at the start of his remarks to U.S. bishops.

Speaking in Italian, Francis said: “May the Lord bless them with peace and may they continue with a life of holiness.”

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for Jews. They spend the day repenting and atoning for any sins.


11:10 a.m.

President Barack Obama has given Pope Francis gifts symbolizing peace and service to the needy.

Gift exchanges are customary between U.S. officials and foreign dignitaries.

Obama gave Francis a sculpture of an ascending dove that incorporates original material from the Statue of Liberty, regarded as a beacon of hope and freedom. The sculpture’s pedestal is made of wood from the White House grounds and includes a personalized inscription. The White House did not provide text of the inscription.

Obama also gave the pope a key from the Maryland home of Elizabeth Ann Seton, who dedicated herself to serving the needy. She was the first native-born American to become a saint; this year marks the 40th anniversary of her canonization. The key dates to 1809 and was presented on a marble slab from the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

For his part, Francis gave Obama a bronze bas-relief of the medallion of the World Meeting of Families, the big Catholic rally in Philadelphia that was the original reason for his U.S. visit.

The medallion features the meeting logo: A liberty bell embossed with the image of a family.

Francis visits Philadelphia later this week to close out the rally.

The sculpture given to the pope incorporates an original armature bar from the Statue of Liberty, preserved during its centennial restoration.


11 a.m.

Among those in the audience for Pope Francis’ two-day visit to Washington will be members of the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Sonia Sotomayor are attending Wednesday’s mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. All three are Catholics.

Members of the high court also will attend the pontiff’s address to a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday, although which justices are to be there hasn’t yet been announced. Six of the nine justices are Catholic, also including Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.


10:50 a.m.

Pope Francis has moved from the pageantry of the White House, and the public spectacle of his popemobile procession, to the rituals of his church. He’s at the Cathedral of St. Matthew for prayers with U.S. bishops and remarks to those assembled.

The cathedral is best known as the site where Washington mourned the death of the first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy. He is memorialized with a marble plaque in the cathedral floor at the site of the 35th president’s funeral.

The parish dates to 1840 as the fourth Catholic church established in the District of Columbia.


10:30 a.m.

Francis is delighting an adoring crowd with his popemobile procession in Washington.

The pope is moving slowly past throngs lining his route from the White House, waving from an outfitted Jeep that is open on the sides.

At one point, a young girl carrying a yellow banner got outside the police barricade holding the crowds back and tried to approach the popemobile. She shied back when a bodyguard came near to pick her up and bring her to Francis. But then the pope gestured to her to come to him, and she allowed the bodyguard to pick her up and bring her to Francis for a papal kiss and blessing.

The pope also paused twice to have babies brought to him, and he kissed them on the head.

It’s his first encounter with the American public, after his invitation-only event on the White House South Lawn.

The pope is proceeding to the Cathedral of St. Matthew where he is meeting with American bishops.


10 a.m.

The pope draws an amazingly diverse crowd.

Sedelta Oosahwee, a Native American from Oklahoma, stood next to Alexander Kurien, a native of India, during the ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. They were drawn by the same message: the need for people to care for one another. And the pope delivered, as far as they were concerned.

Oosahwee says she didn’t get any sleep Tuesday night but it was worth it to see the pope. She says, “His message of taking care of each other, taking care of the environment and taking care of those who are less fortunate is a message we all need to hear and it resonates very deeply with me.”

Kurien is a pastor with the Indian Orthodox Malankara Church and says the pope lets the poor know there is someone who cares.


9:40 a.m.

Bishops are gathering at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, where they will pray with Pope Francis. The cathedral holds about 1,000 people, and about 300 US bishops are expected to attend. The pope is expected to pray in Latin and speak to the bishops in Italian.

The cathedral is best known as the site where Washington mourned the death of the first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy. He is memorialized with a marble plaque in the cathedral floor at the site of the 35th president’s funeral.

The parish dates to 1840 as the fourth Catholic church established in the District of Columbia.


9:15 a.m.

President Barack Obama and Pope Francis are meeting privately in the Oval Office.

Their meeting followed an elaborate welcome ceremony for Francis on the South Lawn of the White House that took place under sunny, blue skies in front of some 15,000 onlookers.

After the ceremony, Obama led Francis into the White House. They reappeared on a balcony and waved to the throngs huddled on the lawn and walked along the colonnade and past the famed Rose Garden on the way to the president’s office.

Each leader addressed the contentious climate change issue in brief remarks to the crowd. It’s one of several issues on which they agree and a likely topic of discussion in their meeting.

Another likely topic is the restoration of full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Francis acted as something of a go-between for the longtime foes.


9 a.m.

Pope Francis is encouraging U.S. bishops to continue to defend religious liberty in America in a message that will be welcomed by conservatives fighting for conscience exemptions on gay marriage and the Obama administration’s health care mandate.

Speaking from the South Lawn of the White House with President Barack Obama at his side, Francis said religious liberty is “one of America’s most precious possessions.”

He says everyone in America is called to “preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.”

Religious freedom has become a rallying cry for opponents of gay marriage in the U.S. who don’t want to recognize same-sex spouses in their charities, schools, hospitals and businesses.

The issue is a major point of tension between Obama and the U.S. bishops.


9 a.m.

Some eager to see Pope Francis parade through the nation’s capital have traveled great distances for the opportunity.

Adele Flores lives in Manila and traveled to Washington just to see the pope. When the pope visited the Philippines the crowds were too thick and she didn’t catch a glimpse.

Flores says: “When he passed by, even though I didn’t see him, I felt him.” And she says: “You hope by getting a glimpse that a little bit of his holiness will rub off on you.”


8:45 a.m.

The pope says climate change is an urgent problem that “can no longer be left to a future generation.”

Francis waded into that hot-button political issue in remarks at the White House, where President Barack Obama and a crowd of thousands welcomed him.

The pope praised Obama for focusing on the environment and the need to cut air pollution, calling it “encouraging.”

Francis cast climate change as a peril to what he called our “common home” in a speech that also called for safeguarding religious liberty and rejecting discrimination.

On climate change, he says time remains to make changes that are needed but also warns that “we are living at a critical moment of history.”

Climate change is one of several issues on which the pope and the president agree, though Republicans in Congress have blocked many of Obama’s efforts to address the issue by law.

Francis is on his first visit to the U.S.


8:30 a.m.

President Barack Obama is commending Pope Francis for “shaking us out of complacency” and giving people confidence to pursue a world that is more loving, just and free.

Obama is speaking at a crowded welcome ceremony for the pope on the South Lawn of the White House. The president says the excitement surrounding the pope’s visit must be attributed not only to his role as head of the Catholic Church, but also Francis’ humility and generosity of spirit.

Obama is singling out the pope’s call for focusing on the poor and the marginalized, including refugees fleeing war and immigrants in search of a better life. He’s also highlighting the pope’s call for protecting the planet and supporting communities vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The president is thanking the pope for his support for efforts to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba.


8:20 a.m.

The Obamas and a crowd of thousands are welcoming the pope to the White House.

After lingering with young people outside the Vatican’s diplomatic mission, Francis arrived at the White House for a welcome on the South Lawn heralded by the call of bugles and snappy salutes. Under sunny skies, the crowd of invited guests, military personnel and officials gathered for remarks by President Barack Obama and the pope. The president and his wife, Michelle, greeted him when he emerged from his Fiat, his modest vehicle of choice.


8 a.m.

Before leaving for the White House, Pope Francis took his time greeting schoolchildren outside the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Washington where he spent the night.

The children hugged him, took picture and waved Holy See flags. They were dressed to the nines, some in school uniforms. The pope lingered in conversation with some, and patted heads.

Aside from his bodyguards, Francis is accompanied by Monsignor Mark Miles, his trusty English translator, but he didn’t seem to need his services.

Francis greeted the kids before getting into his car to travel to the White House for his meeting with President Barack Obama.


7:50 a.m.

Minutes before Pope Francis was to arrive at the White House, President Barack Obama tweeted a welcome message to him.

Here’s what Obama’s tweet says: “Welcome to the White House, (at)Pontifex!” — that’s the pope’s Vatican Twitter feed.

Obama says that Francis’ “messages of love, hope and peace have inspired us all.”

Obama went to a military airport in Maryland to greet the pope for his U.S. arrival Tuesday.


7:40 a.m.

Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious leaders are at the White House to help welcome Pope Francis.

But some Jews are missing out on the excitement.

Francis’ visit to the White House coincides with Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews. They spend the day repenting and atoning for any sins.

The holiday began at sundown Tuesday and ends at sundown Wednesday — hours after the pope will have left the White House.

The White House says the invitation-only crowd of some 15,000 also includes people who don’t lead religious groups or aren’t connected with faith-based organizations but who just have “a great regard for the pope and his message.”

Observant Jews can participate in some of the pope’s other events in the nation’s capital, such as his address at the Capitol on Thursday.


7:30 a.m.

Raeann Meier and Mary Darnell are among the lucky ones to land tickets for Thursday’s papal mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Meier, who’s from Round Hill, Virginia, won a pair of tickets in her church lottery and is bringing fellow parishioner Darnell.

Meier says of Francis: “There is just no pope like this one.” She says “Jesus hung out with the dregs — the tax collectors, the prostitutes” and “that’s the way this pope is.”


6:50 a.m.

An elaborate welcoming ceremony full of American pomp and pageantry awaits Pope Francis when he goes to the White House.

The pope is scheduled to arrive by motorcade at about 9 a.m., his car pulling slowly up the South Lawn driveway to a red carpet, where President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, will be waiting to greet him.

In front of an estimated 15,000 people who were invited by the White House to witness the historic moment, Obama will then lead Francis to a dais decked out with even more red carpet and red, white and blue bunting, and ringed by military color guards. The Vatican and American national anthems will play. Obama will deliver a welcome address to the pope, followed by the pope’s address.

Francis will also receive a thunderous 21-gun salute.


6:05 a.m.

The morning light is just hitting the streets surrounding the National Mall in Washington, and already there’s a buzz of pope-related activity.

People hoping to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis during a late morning parade are lining up for a coveted spot along the route.

Police and the Secret Service are enforcing road closures in the area and directing foot traffic.

The parade is the only nonticketed event during the pope’s visit to the capital, and a big crowd is expected.


5:30 a.m.

As a head of state, Pope Francis officially is in the U.S. on what’s known as a “state visit.”

But the formal ceremony Wednesday morning on the White House South Lawn will be slightly different from most state arrival ceremonies.

For one thing, President Barack Obama and Francis will not review the troops, as presidents do with other visiting leaders. That’s because the pontiff controls no armed forces.

Nor will Francis return to the White House in the evening as the guest at a lavish state dinner, one of the highlights of most state visits.

That’s largely because of Francis’ busy schedule.

The pope is spending the rest of the day with Roman Catholic bishops and other church officials and celebrating Mass at Catholic University.