Pope Francis held a ‘virtual’ meeting with Catholics in Chicago, Los Angeles and McAllen, Texas, in advance of his visit to the United States which begins on September 22.
The audience via satellite link-up was arranged by ABC News, which aired sections of the meeting during its World News Tonight programme on Monday, with an extended version extended version, entitled ‘Pope Francis and the People’, is set to be aired on September 4. The meeting will also be posted in full on abcnews.com.
Pope Francis spoke with students at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, homeless men and women and those working with homeless people in Los Angeles, and members of a McAllen parish located near the US-Mexico border.
“We were allowed inside the Vatican for an hour with Pope Francis, where he greeted us as he prepared for his trip,” said David Muir, World News Tonight anchor.
“He told me he’s ready, and he delivered a couple of messages to the American people before his historic visit, saying, ‘For me it is very important to meet with all of you, the citizens of the United States, who have your history, your culture, your virtues, your joys, your sadness, your problems, like everyone else. That’s why this trip is important, for me to draw close to you, in your path, your history.’”
Muir added, “He went on to say, ‘I’m praying for you all, and I ask you to please pray for me.’”
The Pope allowed us to visit him so we could connect him with people in other parts of America where he won’t be able to visit, Muir said. “He took questions and heard stories of struggle.”
During the meeting Valerie Herrera, a 17-year-old student, wept as she told Francis about how she had been bullied about a skin condition she has suffered from throughout her life. She said she found strength in music, which led to Pope Francis asking her to sing.
“I would like to hear you sing,” he said. “May I ask of you to sing a song for me? Be courageous!”
The teenager responded by singing a song in Spanish.
“Today was an unforgettable day in the 20-year history of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School,” said a tweet from the school after the meeting ended. Chris Meyer, the school’s director of technology, tweeted, “A glorious morning at Cristo Rey Chicago,” advising in a separate tweet there would be “powerful stories” in the broadcast on the 4th of September.