Pope Benedict XVI has been welcomed at the White House with pomp and pageantry and cheering from thousands of excited people spread across the South Lawn. Benedict is only the second pope to visit the White House and the first in 29 years. He arrived on his 81st birthday. More than 9,000 guests were invited to the ceremony, the largest in White House history. President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, stood on the driveway to welcome the pontiff as he stepped from his limousine. The pope greeted them with a two-handed handshake. It was a sunny, cloudless day. A 21-gun salute boomed in honor of the pope as the Marine Band played the national anthem of the Holy See.