Pope speech crowd Jen

Jen Ali, 67, Washington, D.C.

Ali listened to Pope Francis’ speech outside the Capitol after attending the parade and mass Wednesday. “It has been a spiritual journey and a memorable event that I will never forget.” She teared up when she spoke about the pope, “He is like a tender grandfather for us. … The speech was to let people know that this pope is about love, humanity and caring for all people.”

Pope speech crowd cousins

Sandra Irish (left), 54, and Simonetta D’Onofrio (right), 52, are cousins from Maryland.

“The speech was inspiring and the pope was able to give a positive message, enforcing the rights of human beings.” Irish said. “Congress needs to keep that in mind when making all laws for our country.”

D’Onofrio added, “My hope is that our leaders will continue the process rather than staying idle.” She also praised the pope for being inclusive when he came out on a balcony of the Capitol and addressed the public.

Pope speech crowd Nigerian woman

Maryqueen Chilaka, 58, Texas

Chilaka came to America 26 years ago from Nigeria. She said what caught her attention from the speech was that the pope “made everybody understand we were once foreigners.” Immigration is one of the issues she wants the Congress to address. “Many illegal immigrants are here with their kids. If the government wants to take them home, what happens to the children?”


Molly Porth, 27, Washington, D.C.

“I thought it was great, because he has a wonderful way of being powerful and progressive, but also not divisive.  What he said drew applause from both Republicans, Democrats, Catholics, Christians, Jewish and Muslims.  He has a beautiful way of bringing everyone together and saying powerful, meaningful things without dividing people, as we’re so used to in Washington.”


Julia Melendez, 53, Newport News, Va.

“I think he was very soft-spoken. Personally, I appreciate everything the pope had to say.  I just feel that it was very soft.  I honestly was expecting a little bit more of a scolding, a little spanking. ‘Cause I really believe that Congress does deserves that…because of everything that has occurred in our country in these past few years (such as inequality in economical opportunities).  There’s been a lot of injustices and unfortunately our government has been involved in making those things happen.” She said the pope spoke very poignantly but softly trying to be diplomatic and peaceful.
J.C. Murillo, 56, Washington, D.C.
“I think he’s a nice man.  I don’t agree with everything he said, even though I’m a Catholic. He knows all the issues and professes the Catholic values, but I think a pope should probably stay away from politics and policies.  We run the risk of them intermixing a little too much.”
Augustine Tran, 41, Fall Church, Va.
“It was wonderful to hear that the pope come here and he named four of our people that made history of the United States of America. Personally, it was impactful for my spiritual journey because they inspired me. He also mentioned the golden rule, to do unto others what you want people to do to you, or the measure stick you measure out is the same stick that will measure back to you.”
Rafael Flores, 87, McAllen, Texas
“I loved every word he said, every idea he had.  I thought he was spectacular and to the point.  I loved when he blessed all the children and told them the future is theirs, which it is.”