Protesting Priests Urge Pope To End 'Thousands Of Years Of Misogyny'

"He made eye contact with us!" one protester said. "He looked right at our signs!"

WASHINGTON -- Seven people who say they are ordained Catholic priests protested the church ban on women in the priesthood Wednesday outside St. Matthew's Cathedral, where Pope Francis met with U.S. bishops. Four of the protesters were women.

The demonstrators, all members of the Roman Catholic Women Priests, staged a "die-in" -- a protest tactic where participants lie down and force police or security to remove them -- capitalizing on the attention surrounding the pope's visit. All were later arrested and issued $50 tickets.

The organization has ordained 215 women worldwide since its 2002 founding, even though the Roman Catholic Church doesn't recognize women clergy. Representatives of the nonprofit Women's Ordination Conference attended the rally in support of the protesters. Both groups want the pope to repeal canon law 1024, which states that only men can be ordained as priests.

Priests at Wednesday's protest include those with backgrounds in social activism and civil disobedience. Several have served time in federal prison for protesting issues like drones and nuclear proliferation. As protest veterans, the priests knew the right location would be crucial for their demonstration. They arrived in front of the cathedral at 5:30 a.m., before sunrise.

The Huffington Post

Sister Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a Kentucky native ordained by the Roman Catholic Women Priests and one of the leaders of the protest, voiced frustration at what she said was a great injustice. "This is an act of violence, denying priesthood to women," she told The Huffington Post.

Pope Francis, Sevre-Duszynska said, should draw the connection between the oppression of women within the church and violence against women in the world. Doing so, she said, would heal "hundreds, thousands of years of misogyny."

"I think folks are forgetting that Pope Francis is the CEO of an institution that's a patriarchy,"said the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, another leader of Wednesday's protest.

Bourgeois, prominent among Catholic activists for decades of pushing the church to take more progressive stances on issues like the Vietnam War and U.S. military support for violent regimes, only recently turned to the issue of ordaining women. He met Sevre-Duszynska about eight years ago and she drew him into the cause. "It wasn't heavy theology," Bourgeois said. "It's called discrimination."

Bourgeois grew up in Louisiana in the 1950s and likens the treatment of women in the church to black parishioners being confined to the back five pews of his childhood church. "Sexism, like racism, is a sin," he said.

After Bourgeois attended Sevre-Duszynska's ordination in 2008, he said he received a letter from the Vatican demanding he recant his support for the ordination of women or face excommunication. He was expelled from the priesthood in 2012.

As the sky began to grow light Wednesday morning, a security guard ushered the protestors away from the church onto a nearby corner, where they remained for several hours. A stream of fans and devoted worshippers arrived later in the morning to herald the pope's arrival.

Some expressed disapproval for the women priests' cause. "There's no such thing!" one woman said when she heard the name "Roman Catholic Women Priests." As the protesters and their supporters marched along the street, a rival conservative group bearing loudspeakers attempted to drown out their acoustic guitar.

The Huffington Post

At around 11 a.m., police ordered those near the cathedral to get out of the crosswalk. "I think this could be the moment," Bourgeois muttered, before lying in the street. His six companions then fell to the pavement. The group remained there for about 90 minutes -- well after the pope's arrival via another street -- until police moved in to make arrests. Some were physically carried off the street.

The Huffington Post

Police issued each of the protestors a $50 ticket for blocking the road.

The protesters stood on the corner as Pope Francis departed the cathedral, his motorcade passing right by them.

That moment made the day a success for Sevre-Duszynska. "He made eye contact with us!" she said later. "He looked right at our signs!"

Goodbye Pope Francis!
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PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 27: Pope Francis celebrates mass during the World Meeting of Families on September 27, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 27: Pope Francis greets corrections officers during a visit to the Curran-Fromhold Correction Facility September 27, 015 in in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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Pope Francis waves to the audience after speaking at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, September 27, 2015 in Wynnewwod, Pennsylvania. After visiting Washington and New York City, Pope Francis concludes his tour of the U.S. with events in Philadelphia on Saturday and Sunday. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis met privately with survivors of sexual abuse at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary on Sunday morning.

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 26: Pope Francis attends the Festival of Families along Benjamin Franklin Parkway on September 26, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pope Francis wraps up his trip to the United States with two days in Philadelphia, attending the Festival of Families and meeting with prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. (Photo by Eric Thayer-Pool/Getty Images)
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PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 26: Pope Francis speaks at the Festival of Families along Benjamin Franklin Parkway on September 26, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pope Francis wraps up his trip to the United States with two days in Philadelphia, attending the Festival of Families and meeting with prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. (Photo by Eric Thayer-Pool/Getty Images)
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PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 26: Sister Sledge performs at the Festival of Families on September 26, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pope Francis wraps up his trip to the United States with two days in Philadelphia, attending the Festival of Families and meeting with prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. (Photo by Matt Rourke-Pool/Getty Images)
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PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 26: Audience members cheer as musician Matt Maher performs at the Festival of Families on September 26, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pope Francis wraps up his trip to the United States with two days in Philadelphia, attending the Festival of Families and meeting with prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. (Photo by Matt Rourke-Pool/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis pauses during a visit to Ground Zero on September 25, 2015 in New York City. Francis visited Ground Zero following his address at the United Nations. The interfaith prayer service will include Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus.
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis pauses to pray during a visit to Ground Zero on September 25, 2015 in New York City. Francis visited Ground Zero following his address at the United Nations.
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis visits the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City and prays at 'Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning' by Spencer Finch on September 25, 2015 in New York City. Reposed behind this blue wall are the remains of many who perished at the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2001.
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis enters Ground Zero on September 25, 2015 in New York City. Pope Francis visited Ground Zero following his address at the United Nations. The interfaith prayer service will include Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus. The Pope will also meet with family members of victims who were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis addresses the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 25, 2015 in New York City.
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Spectators wait along Fifth Avenue ahead of the arrival of Pope Francis at St. )
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis waves to guests as he exits Saint Patrick's Cathedral after leading evening Vespers on September 24, 2015 in New York City.
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis addresses the congregation during evening Vespers at Saint Patrick's Cathedral on September 24, 2015 in New York City.
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Guests take photos of Pope Francis' arrivval at Saint Patrick's Cathedral on September 24, 2015 in New York City.
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Crowds wait for Pope Francis to arrive on 5th Avenue on September 24, 2015 in New York City.
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis arrives by helicopter on September 24, 2015 in New York City.
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis departs from Washington, DC en route to New York City on September 24, 2015 in Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis bids farewell to Secretary of State John Kerry as he departs from Washington, DC en route to New York City on September 24, 2015 in Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 24: U.S. servicemembers prepare for the departure of Pope Francis from Washington, DC en route to New York City on September 24, 2015 in Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: People take pictures in front of a road block on Fifth Avenue ahead of the arrival of Pope Francis at St. Patrick's Cathedral on September 24, 2015 in New York City. Pope Francis will land at John F. Kennedy Airport after a two-day visit to Washington D.C. and will conduct a number of events while in New York including a motorcade through Central Park and Mass in Madison Square Garden.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis, left, has a selfie taken with Michael Brown as he walks through the crowd during a visit to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Cartrice Haynesworth, center, has a selfie taken with Pope Francis, left, as he walks through the crowd during a visit to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Children wait for Pope Francis to arrive and bless a meal outside the Catholic Charities office September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Michael White listens to hymns while waiting for Pope Francis to arrive and bless a meal outside the Catholic Charities office September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis greets parishioners, immigrants and clients of Catholic Charities as he arrives at St. Patrick's Church September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis greets people as he arrives to pray at St. Patrick's Church on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis is on a five-day trip to the United States, which includes stops in Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia, after a three-day stay in Cuba. St. Patrick's is the oldest Catholic parish in Washington. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis (2-R) pauses in front of a sculpture of Spanish-born Junipero Serra, the Franciscan Friar known for starting missions in California, in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis is on a five-day trip to the USA, which includes stops in Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia, after a three-day stay in Cuba.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis is the first pope to address a joint meeting of Congress and will finish his tour of Washington later today before traveling to New York City.
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WASHINGTON, USA - SEPTEMBER 24: His Holiness Pope Francis enters the House of Representatives chambers to address a joint session of the United States Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, USA on September 24, 2015.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis is the first pope to address a joint meeting of Congress and will finish his tour of Washington later today before traveling to New York City.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis is greeted by members of Congress as he arrives to speak during a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) (R) speaks with Pope Francis (L) in the U.S. Capitol building before the Pontiff speaks to a joint meeting of Congress September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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Pope Francis greets well-wishers the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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People gather in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on September 24, 2015 before Pope Francis addresses a Joint Session of Congress on the third day of his six-day visit to the US.
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Anderson Mayorga, 10, shows off his Pope Francis shirt in Washington DC.
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People pray while Pope Francis celebrates a Canonization Mass for Rev. Junípero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis is in the United State for 6 days during his first trip as the leader of the Catholic Church. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis celebrates a Canonization Mass for Rev. Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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Pope Francis delivers a homily during a Canonization Mass for Rev. Juni­pero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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People sing while Pope Francis celebrates a Canonization Mass for Rev. Juni­pero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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People listen during a Canonization Mass with Pope Francis for Rev. Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis speaks to bishops during the midday prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis attends the Midday Prayer Service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Pope began his first trip to the United States at the White House followed by a visit to St. Matthew's Cathedral, and will then hold a Mass on the grounds of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis arrives at a midday prayer with US bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC, on September 23, 2015 on the second day of his six-day visit to the US.. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis stands at the altar of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel for a private prayer before participating in the Midday Prayer Service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew on September 23, 2015 in Washington DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis arrives for the midday prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis leans out and waves to the crowd as he rides in a popemobile along a parade route around the National Mall on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis blesses a child handed to him during a parade on the streets around the Ellipse, south of the White House, September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: (L-R) Pope Francis and U.S. President Barack Obama stands for the national anthem of the United States during the arrival ceremony at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Pope Francis (L) during the arrival ceremony at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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US President Barack Obama talks with Pope Francis during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, September 23, 2015.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: (L-R) Pope Francis and U.S. President Barack Obama talk in the Oval Office during the arrival ceremony at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and first Lady Michelle Obama (L) wave from the balcony with Pope Francis (C) in an arrival ceremony at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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US President Barack Obama and Pope Francis walk down the West Wing Colonnade to a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, September 23, 2015.
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Pope Francis speaks during an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, September 23, 2015. More than 15,000 people packed the South Lawn for a full ceremonial welcome on Pope Francis' historic maiden visit to the United States. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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White House Welcome Ceremony
Live Stream: Pope Francis participates in a welcome ceremony at the White House.
Behind The Scenes - Preparing For The Pope
The White House released a behind the scenes video on what it's like to prepare for a papal visit.

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US Secretary of State (C) greets clergy as US Vice President Joe Biden (R) looks on before the arrival of Pope Francis at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington,DC. President Barack Obama will host Pope Francis at the White House for the first time Wednesday, warmly embracing the Catholic pontiff seen as both a moral authority and potent political ally. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis waves from the back of his Fiat after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (AFP OUT) Pope Francis departs in a Fiat after arriving from Cuba to the United States September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Supporters cheer for Pope Francis after he arrived from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop) Pope Francis (L) is escorted by U.S. President Barack Obama as he greets and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis greets children alongside US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis (L) walks alongside US President Barack Obama (C) and US First Lady Michelle Obama (R) upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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US President Barack Obama (L) greets Pope Francis (R) upon his arrival September 22, 2015 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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US President Barack Obama welcomes Pope Francis upon his arrival on September 22, 2015 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis shakes hands with Vice President Joe Biden along with U.S. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis shakes hands with Vice President Joe Biden along with U.S. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis steps off his plane at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. Pope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday for his first-ever visit, a trip that will include a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and a speech to Congress. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Members of the Army's 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, or The Old Guard, roll out the red carpet for Pope Francis ahead of his arrival from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. The Pontiff will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images
Pope Francis arrives at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. Pope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday for his first-ever visit, a trip that will include a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and a speech to Congress. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis arrives to the United States from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Jaweed Kaleem/The Huffington Post
Jaweed Kaleem/The Huffington Post
Jaweed Kaleem/The Huffington Post
Jaweed Kaleem/The Huffington Post
Jaweed Kaleem/The Huffington Post
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Banners celebrating the visit of Pope Francis are hung ahead of his arrival from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. The Pontiff will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images
Pope Francis T-shirts are seen for sale on a street corner near the White House on September 22, 2015 in Washington, DC.

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