Pope Francis makes first visit to U.S.

October 1, 2015

Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration mass on 19 March 2013.

Pope Francis made stops in Washington, DC, New York City and Philadelphia during his first visit to the United States September 22-27, 2015. Beginning in Washington, the Pope met with President Obama and was accorded the honor of addressing a joint meeting of Congress on September 24. His address was unusual in that it focused far more on the refugee crisis, the death penalty, racial injustice and the evils of greed. Abortion and same-sex marriage received scant coverage, according to CNN.

The Pope concluded his visit to the U.S. in Philadelphia, where he first met privately with several victims of clergy sex abuse. He later celebrated Mass before an estimated crowd of 1 million on streets which The New York Times described as “lock-down emptied.” In his sermon, Pope Francis called for greater tolerance. Later he went to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. It is primarily an intake jail with 2,800 inmates.

“I am here as a pastor,” the Pope said, “but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own,” he told about 100 men and women detainees who were drawn at random, according to the Associated Press. The New York Times reported that as he spoke, “burly inmates, some with shaved heads and dreadlocks and one with a tattoo crawling up his neck, watched intently. After the speech, Francis walked along the rows of inmates sitting in chairs, shaking hands, chatting, laying his hand on their foreheads and hugging a few.”