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The eight most powerful moments of Pope Francis' visit to the United States

2015-09-29

From the moment he stepped foot in the United States, Pope Francis captured the nation's attention. Whether it was his bold statements about family life or the car he traveled in, the Pope's first trip to the U.S. was filled with meaning. Here are the eight most powerful moments.

1. THE FIAT

When Pope Francis landed in Washington, he surprised many by stepping into a black Fiat 500L. It was a small gesture, but in a city where leaders typically travel inside limousines or big SUVs, it made a big impression on the American public.

2. REMINDING CONGRESS OF THE "GOLDEN RULE”

Pope Francis covered lots of ground in his speech to Congress. But the central theme of his address was elegant in its simplicity. When he spoke of the Golden Rule, it received more applause than almost any other moment in his speech.

"We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'”           

3. A TOUCHING MOMENT WITH A CHILD
While in Washington, a 5-year-old girl whose parents face deportation broke through security to meet Pope Francis. She handed him a t-shirt and a letter expressing hope that people like her parents can remain in the United States. 


4. LINKING THE ENVIORNMENTAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES

Like his speech to Congress, the Pope covered a wide range of issues when he addressed the UN General Assembly. He explained how his view of environmental care is linked to his position on social issues.

"The defense of the environment and the fight against exclusion demand that we recognize a moral law written into human nature itself, one which includes the natural difference between man and woman, and absolute respect for life in all its stages and dimensions.”

5. VISITING GROUND ZERO

Toward the end of the trip, the Pope noted that he was incredibly moved by his visit to the 9/11 Memorial. While there, he explained how goodness eventually overcame evil.

"This place of death became a place of life too, a place of saved lives, a hymn to the triumph of life over the prophets of destruction and death, to goodness over evil, to reconciliation and unity over hatred and division.”


6. UNSCRIPTED REMARKS ON FAMILIES

Speaking at the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis set down his speech and gave off-the-cuff remarks about family life. He said that families quarrel, but they're filled with love.

"God plans so that our hearts are open. He likes to open hearts. It comes from Him. But you know what He likes most. To knock on the doors of families and to find families who love each other. Families who bring up their children to grow and help them move forward.”

7. "GOD WEEPS”

Before addressing American bishops in Philadelphia, Pope Francis met with five survivors of sexual abuse. Some suffered at the hands of priests, others family members or teachers. He told the bishops about his experience.

"It continues to make me feel overwhelming ashamed that people who were in charge of the tender care of those small children violated them and caused them serious harm. I deeply regret it. God weeps.”

8. GREETING PRISONERS ONE BY ONE

When the Pope went to a large prison inside Philadelphia, he took the time to greet every prisoner one by one. In his speech, he said it was a lie that people cannot change.

"Let us look to Jesus, who washes our feet. He is 'the way, and the truth, and the life.' He comes to save us from the lie that says no one can change... He wants us to keep walking along the paths of life, to realize that we have a mission, and that confinement is not the same thing as exclusion.”

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