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Even Pope Francis is learning lessons of the age of technology: you can be everywhere. Virtually.
Three weeks before he touches down on US soil, Francis was invited to a gathering of people in cities where he will not be visiting later this month.
By videolink, the Pontiff chatted with students at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago; people from homeless shelters in Los Angeles, and immigrants at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas.
So while the Sept. 22-27 journey will be his first papal visit to America, the video conference was his first official meeting with the American public. Moderated by “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir, it will be part of an ABC News special airing on Friday.
The Pope said he is praying for the U.S. and asked for Americans’ prayers in turn. There were some touching moments in the encounter, according to the Huffington Post:
One 17-year-old student started crying as she told the pope about being bullied for a skin condition she has had her whole life. She said she has found strength in music, which inspired Pope Francis to make a special request.
“I would like to hear you sing,” the pope said in English. “May I ask of you to sing a song for me? Be courageous!” The teenager then treated Francis to song in the Argentine pope’s native Spanish.
A video preview of the event can be seen at the website of the Washington Post. The virtual meeting may be a kind of preview to the American journey in late September, in which he is expected to emphasize care for “the least of these.” He will meet with prisoners, immigrants, elementary school children and family members of Sept. 11 victims.
New details emerged Tuesday about plans for the New York leg of his visit. Organizers have given the faithful another chance to see the popular Pope on September 25, when Francis will make a procession through Manhattan’s Central Park. Tickets are required.