(Liverpool) – A 23-year-old toddler at the center of a U.K. legal battle over life support is dead. 23-month-old Alfie Evans died Saturday, almost a week after being taken off a ventilator and more than a year of living in a semi-vegetative state.He was diagnosed with a form of cancer that attacks the nervous system and his parents brought legal challenges to keep their son on life support, at one point trying to get the boy moved to a hospital in Italy for more treatment.They lost every challenge. Pope Francis, who had been following the case, tweeted that he was deeply moved by Alfie’s death. “Today I pray especially for his parents,” the Pontiff wrote, “as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace.”
(Santiago) – Two Chilean flight attendants are married, after Pope Francis traveled on their flight from Santiago to Iquique. Carlos Ciuffardi and Paola Podest were married in a civil service in 2010, but told the Pontiff they were unable to have a church ceremony because of a major earthquake that hit Chile that year.Reports say the Pope offered to marry the couple on the spot, with the head of the airline serving as witness to the marriage. Pope Francis gave a white rosary to the bride and a black rosary to the groom.
The couple told members of the media assembled on the plane that they hope the historic ceremony will motivate other couples to marry.
(SL) – First Lady Michelle Obama is known for her fashion sense, and now miniskirt-loving Sasha and Malia have upped the sartorial stakes by showing off sweetly fashionable, yet modest, outfits for their historic meeting with Pope Francis.
Fourteen-year-old Sasha was wearing a pleated colorblock skirt by Kate Spade, while Malia, 16, paired a short-sleeved black top with a coordinating graphic print skirt that also fell below the knee.
Washington (CNN) – Pope Francis landed on U.S. soil for the first time just before 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, launching a six-day visit that will highlight his love for the poor and his willingness to tackle the nation’s most significant political, social and economic controversies.
In an unprecedented welcome for a foreign dignitary, President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters along with Vice President Joe Biden and his family traveled to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington to greet the pontiff, who arrived from Cuba.
The flags of the United States and the Vatican flapped from the cockpit windows of the pope’s chartered Italian jet as it rolled to a stop near a line of priests in black and red robes and a group of children from local Catholic schools. The Argentine-born pope appeared at the top of the stairs of the plane in a white cassock, smiled and removed his skullcap so it would not be blown away by the wind. Obama greeted him at the foot of the steps with a handshake and a warm smile.
The crowd chanted “Ho Ho, Hey, Hey Hey, Welcome to the U.S.A.” as Francis became the fourth head of the Catholic Church to visit the United States, nearly 50 years after Paul VI made the first visit by a pontiff to the country in October 1965.
On the plane en route to the United States, Francis told reporters, including CNN’s Rosa Flores, that he was happy to make his first U.S. visit. He dismissed suggestions that he was a socialist or a “lefty,” saying that despite his warnings of the inequities in the global economic system, his beliefs were consistent with the established social doctrine of the Church.
After a brief private meeting with Obama in a VIP suite, the pope climbed into a black Fiat hatchback car with the number plate SCV 1, which was much smaller than the limousine foreign visitors normally take in Washington — in keeping with his rejection of much of the pageantry that accompanies the papacy and his desire to live a humble life. After a busy few days in Cuba, Francis has no scheduled events on Tuesday night and will remain at the residence of the Apostolic Nuncio or Vatican ambassador to the United States.
Obama will roll out an official welcoming ceremony for Francis on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday. The pope will then parade through downtown Washington in his Popemobile, with thousands of people expected to line the sidewalks. He’ll hold a canonization later in the day at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Thursday could be the most politically significant day of his trip, with the first-ever joint address to Congress by a pontiff. He’ll then head to New York, where he will host a religious service at the ground zero site of the September 11 attacks in 2001 and address the United Nations. His trip ends Sunday in Philadelphia.
The highly anticipated visit is triggering one of the largest security mobilizations in U.S. history, jointly run by the U.S. Secret Service and the F.B.I. and involving federal, state and city law enforcement. Officials have said, however, that they have not detected any specific terrorist threat to the pope while he is in the United States.