Biden to lead farewell ceremony for Pope Francis in Philadelphia

 President Barack Obama meets with Pope Francis in 2014 at the Vatican. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)

President Barack Obama meets with Pope Francis in 2014 at the Vatican. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, will lead the farewell ceremony for Pope Francis in Philadelphia next Sunday, the White House has announced.

Biden, who is weighing whether to run for president in 2016, will also join President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in welcoming the pope when he lands at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Tuesday.

The pope and the president will meet privately before the pontiff’s much-anticipated speech to members of Congress Thursday, the White House said.

“Whatever he says will make people think,” said national security spokesman Ben Rhodes. “I think that’s what we’ve been struck by with the pope. Everywhere he’s gone, he’s found things to welcome and to challenge.”

Obama advisers said they hope Francis’ messages will help advance the president’s agenda on issues such as climate change and income inequality.

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