How the Pope brought our messy multitude together

Story highlights

As Pope Francis called for unity, he drew crowds in in Washington, New York and Philadelphia

He said we are better when we work together; when we don't set aside our differences but celebrate them

Philadelphia CNN  — 

He introduced himself as a brother, a son of immigrants, a neighbor from beyond our southern border.

He came to remind our politicians of the country’s founding principles and to encourage them to protect our families and our earth from an uncertain future.

In a country where Christianity often comes wrapped in an American flag, he said that we are better when we work together, when we don’t set aside our differences but celebrate them – wherever we are from, whatever God we worship.

He came to meet us, finally, to look into our eyes and share our struggles.

For six days the earth seemed to tilt toward the man wearing the plain white cassock and the Mona Lisa smile. Wherever Pope Francis went in Washington, New York and Philadelphia, we eddied and pooled around him, cheers rising from the crowd as he approached.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, tears up after hearing the Pope talk about immigration. The presidential candidate was attending a joint session of Congress on Thursday.

In Washington, he shook hands with our President, stood silent through our pomp and showy sense of history. And then, in a soft, grandfatherly voice, he reminded our Congress that history speaks not through the perfect and the proud, but through the flawed and the humble.

He drew tears from our lawmakers, not once but twice.

And one of the nation’s most powerful men relinquished his power the day after meeting him.

03 boehner resigns 0925
John Boehner chokes up during resignation
00:46 - Source: CNN

He went straight from the halls of Congress to a homeless shelter, where few cameras or cares ever reach. He blessed their meals, saying that before God, there are no rich or poor. There are only sons and daughters.

From Washington, he flew to New York, where he hit the city’s cultural icons with the speed of a tourist on a tight budget and the stamina of a man 40 years younger.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Central Park. The United Nations. Madison Square Garden.

Of them all, he seemed to have the most fun at a little school in Harlem.

(An exhausted journalist asked a papal aide about this boundless energy. It comes from outside, the aide admitted, from the people he meets and the God he worships.)