Following his meeting with President Obama, Pope Francis met with U.S. bishops at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington. It's a site rich in history. For example, the funeral for the country's only Catholic president was held there.
Enthusiastic crowds gathered to cheer the Pope as he rode by on the Popemobile. He passed key monuments in the U.S., such as the Washington Monument. One young well-wisher even had the chance to hug the Pope.
Dozens of bishops came from every corner of the country to hear an extensive speech from Pope Francis. He focused on the challenges of the Church and American society, and what they can do as Catholic leaders.
"I have not come to judge you or to lecture you...Allow me only, in the freedom of love, to speak to you as a brother among brothers.”
He praised their firm commitment to life and the family. He told them they faced an enormous challenge in helping to welcome and integrate immigrants into American society.
"Do not be afraid to welcome them...I am certain that, as so often in the past, these people will enrich America and its Church.”
Although he did not refer to it directly, Pope Francis alluded to the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Church in the United States in recent years.
The Pope praised their courage in the face of difficult moments, when they faced criticism and humiliation. But he warned them that it must never happen again.
"I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you and I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims – in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed – and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated.”
Self-referentiality and the tendency to narcissism must also be avoided, the Pope said. He explained that they must sow unity and not division to face the most difficult questions of our times. He described those who are most at risk.
"The innocent victim of abortion, children who die of hunger or from bombings, immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow...”
There are 70 million Catholics in the United States, about one-fifth of the population. A large portion come from Latin America.