RELIGION

Cross-section of US religious life to welcome pope, including evangelicals, gay Catholics

  • Aaron Ledesma, who will help welcome Pope Francis to Washington later this month poses for a photo in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. Ledesma recently reconnected with the church and credits Francis with beginning to break down walls for gay and lesbian Catholics who have long felt alienated by the church. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    Aaron Ledesma, who will help welcome Pope Francis to Washington later this month poses for a photo in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. Ledesma recently reconnected with the church and credits Francis with beginning to break down walls for gay and lesbian Catholics who have long felt alienated by the church. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)  (The Associated Press)

  • Aaron Ledesma, who will help welcome Pope Francis to Washington later this month poses for a photo in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. Ledesma recently reconnected with the church and credits Francis with beginning to break down walls for gay and lesbian Catholics who have long felt alienated by the church. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    Aaron Ledesma, who will help welcome Pope Francis to Washington later this month poses for a photo in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. Ledesma recently reconnected with the church and credits Francis with beginning to break down walls for gay and lesbian Catholics who have long felt alienated by the church. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)  (The Associated Press)

When Pope Francis arrives at the White House at the start of his U.S. visit, he will be greeted by a cross-section of American religious life.

Thousands of people are expected on the South Lawn on Sept. 23 to help President Barack Obama greet Francis as he embarks on a tour through Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

The crowd will include leaders of major evangelical groups, liberal Protestants and a Roman Catholic nun who leads bus tours advocating for social justice.

Also in the crowd will be a gay Catholic man who has blogged about how compassionate statements by the pope have brought him back to the church.

Francis' visit to the U.S. will also include Masses, meetings with immigrants and speeches to Congress and the United Nations.