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Pope Francis arrives in the United States on Tuesday amid raging partisan debates in Congress over abortion, immigration and climate change, giving him an extraordinary platform from which to influence — and roil — lawmakers of both parties.

The politics of the pope's visit, which includes a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, a speech before the U.N. General Assembly, and a first-ever papal address to Congress, will be further complicated by a presidential election in which matters of faith have featured prominently, and sharp lines have already been drawn over the Vatican's recent softer tone.

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His two-year-old papacy has been defined so far by a change in tenor, not doctrine, watchers say. He sent shock waves through the church by responding in 2013 to a question about gay priests by asking, "Who am I to judge?" He has also been vocal on immigration, calling last year's surge of Central American children into the United States a "humanitarian emergency."

As the pope's first U.S. visit comes to an end, church leaders, lay members and Francis fans plan ways of harnessing its goodwill and making its lessons last.

When Maryland pastors take to the pulpit on Sunday, many will share a message about caring for the Earth and fighting against climate change — the environmental message of Pope Francis, who is concluding his first visit to the United States.

Pope Francis urged the country to set aside partisan divisions and focus instead on hope and healing in a historic address to Congress on Thursday that briefly suspended political rancor in the nation's capital.

Gov. Larry Hogan received a special blessing from Pope Francis Thursday on behalf of cancer patients, the governor's office said.

Pope Francis called Father Junipero Serra a defender of "the dignity of the native community," as the first pope from the Americas canonized the 18th-century missionary known as the Apostle of California on Wednesday while he celebrated his first Mass in the United States.

Need to know where the pope is at any given time during his U.S. visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia? This tracker will tell you the whereabouts of Pope Francis at any given time.

Pope Francis opened his visit to the United States with a strong call Wednesday for action to combat climate change,

With Pope Francis sitting 20 feet away, Christina Massimei, 26, will lend her three-octave voice to the Mass he is making a centerpiece of his first U.S. visit.

Pope Francis ditched the fancy wheels in his motorcade in favor of a much more modest ride: a Fiat.

The pope of the poor arrived for his first visit to the world's wealthiest superpower denying he is a leftist and riding in a frugal little family car.

In anticipation of Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia on Sept. 26, the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services is providing emergency medical services equipment to assist with the expected large crowds.

As Pope Francis visits Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia, here is a roundup of Maryland's notable Catholic sites.

WASHINGTON -- Pope Francis will arrive in the United States on Tuesday amid raging partisan debates in Congress over abortion, immigration and climate change, giving him an extraordinary platform from which to influence -- and roil -- lawmakers of both parties.

It has come to be called "the Francis effect," this deep and direct connection that the pope, who will begin a six-day visit to the U.S. on Tuesday, has made with people around the world, both in and out of the faith.

Pope Francis marked the day as a teenager he decided to become a priest by pressing a message to Cubans: Overcome ideological preconceptions and be willing to change.

Being the beat writer for the Baltimore Orioles and the Baltimore Ravens for the now-defunct Baltimore Examiner newspaper was a pretty big deal for former sportswriter Matt Palmer. This week, the Catonsville resident's job as the social media coordinator for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops goes light years beyond professional sports coverage.

The Pilgrimage of Love and Mercy is being led by a Washington County priest and a Catholic Review editor to coincide with the pontiff's first U.S. visit, set to culminate with Mass along Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sunday.

As the Orioles play the neighboring Nationals this week, hundreds of thousands are expected to flock to Washington, D.C. for Pope Francis¿ first visit to U.S. soil as head of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Maryland Transit Administration on Monday announced adjustments to MARC train and commuter bus service for Wednesday and Thursday during Pope Francis' visit to Washington.

As Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, prepares for his first visit to the U.S., believers across the region are getting ready in myriad ways to greet him and seizing the opportunity to draw attention to Church teachings.

Archbishop William Lori: People are often surprised to hear that Pope Francis has not altered Church teaching. In fact, he affirms the long-held teachings of the Catholic Church whether speaking about the environment, the poor, caring for migrants, and what he calls the "culture of waste" or affirming traditional marriage, calling for the protection of religious liberty and promoting the sanctity of all human life.

People affectionately refer to Ginny Dauses as a pope stalker.

Some heading to DC and Philly, most staying home

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