As papal visits go, Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States was deemed a success. Lots of people came away from the six-day trip as winners. And a couple of people? Not so much.
All those babies the pope kissed and blessed: The pope looked most happy during the trip when he was with children and kissing countless babies. In a scene repeated over and again as he traveled along parade routes in the popemobile, security guys took babies from the crowd and walked them over to the pontiff to be blessed. One baby in Philadelphia wearing a pope hat made the pontiff chuckle.
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Immigrants: In his very first speech on American soil, the pope let everyone know of his roots. “As a child of immigrants, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families,” he said in his speech on the White House south lawn. Later, 5-year-old Sofi Cruz broke through a security barrier to reach the pope along his parade route and handed him a note saying that she feared her parents, undocumented immigrants from Mexico, would be deported. The moment was scripted and planned by an L.A.-based immigrant advocacy group.
Later, in a Spanish-language speech in front of 40,000 people outside of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, the pope encouraged Hispanics living in the United States but challenged them, too.
“Do not be discouraged by whatever challenges and hardships you face,” he said. “I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to your new nation.
“You are also called to be responsible citizens and contribute fruitfully to the lives of the community in which you live ...”
The interpreter: The guy with the dark hair and glasses by the pope’s side every instant of the trip became a minor celebrity on social media. British-born Monsignor Mark Miles, who interpreted for the Spanish-speaking pope, caught many an admiring eye on Twitter.
Little Sisters of the Poor: The pope made a surprise visit to the order while he was in Washington on Wednesday. The nuns are locked in a lengthy legal battle with the Obama administration over the Affordable Care Act mandate requiring them to let their insurers offer free contraception coverage to employees.
The pope spent about 15 minutes at their home across the street from Catholic University, shaking hands with the nuns and telling them how important their work with the elderly is.
A Vatican spokesman told reporters that the visit was a sign of the pope’s support for them in their legal battle.
Bobby Hill: Instant. Superstar. This 14-year-old choir boy, a member of the Keystone State Boychoir, had just five minutes warning that he was going to perform for the pope at the World Meeting of Families celebration Saturday night. The young soprano who sang Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu” a capella charmed the audience and wound up making the media rounds because of it. CNN couldn’t stop gushing.
Kim Davis: The embattled Kentucky court clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples got an unexpected, and possibly indirect, show of support from the pope during a press conference he held aboard his charter flight on the trip back to Rome on Monday.
An American reporter asked him about the Davis case, according to The Daily Caller. The pope said that “if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right.”
The Philadelphia Eagles: Fox sports commentator John Lynch credited the pope with divinely inspiring the Eagles’ 24-17 win over the Jets on Sunday — their first win of the season.
Lynch’s pope-factor theory: Because of the pope’s visit, the team had to move out of its normal practice facility on Thursday. “They went to Monmouth University and worked out as a team. They hung out as a team. They went to dinner as a team. Sometimes that’s the best thing,” Lynch said. “It really worked out for the Eagles today.”
The pope-doll folks: It was the souvenir of the trip that showed up in countless selfies, a plush doll in the pope’s likeness. It even showed up on talk shows on Monday.
Cell phone makers: Did anyone in the throngs actually see the pope with their own eyes, because almost everyone was busy capturing the moments on their cell phones?
The Walker family: The Walker family from Argentina traveled 13,000 miles in a remodeled Volkswagen bus to see the pope. Someone at the Vatican must have seen either news reports about the family or their updates on Facebook, because at 6 a.m. on Sunday they got the phone call of their lifetime: You’re meeting the pope today.
“Are you the family who traveled from Buenos Aires?” the pope asked them, laughing. “You’re crazy.”
Bo and Sunny Obama: The “first dogs” met the pope within hours of his arrival in the country.
Fiat: When he wasn’t in his popemobile the pope traveled from stop to stop in a humble black Fiat 500L sedan. “It’s a far cry from the huge sports utility vehicles, pickups and muscle cars often associated with the country, but there are signs that some American drivers may have been converted,” noted the BBC.
Vogue published “A Love Letter to the Fiat 500: The New Popemobile.” NPR wrote of the “symbolism” behind his choice of transportation. Google searches about Fiats spiked.
And Twitter? Well, now it seems that everyone on social media wants a Fiat, with a handful of car dealerships around the country reporting phones ringing steadily since the pope’s arrival.
Winner or loser?
John Boehner: The speaker of the House, a former Catholic altar boy who had spent years trying to get a pope to address Congress, decided to abruptly resign from office the day after the pope’s speech to Boehner’s colleagues.
Bishops who hid scandals: “God weeps” over the sexual abuse of children, the pope told U.S. bishops Sunday after meeting with five victims of abuse at the hands of clergy, family members or teachers. “The people who had the responsibility to take care of these tender ones violated that trust and caused them great pain,” said the pope.
He had more harsh words at a press conference on the plane ride back to Rome. “Some bishops covered this up, which is a very ugly thing,” the pope said.
Bob Brady: The Pennsylvania congressman, who is Catholic, took the drinking glass that the pope sipped from during his speech to Congress on Thursday.
Brady told the Philadelphia Daily News that he took the glass to his office where he, his wife and two staff members sipped on the leftover water. He later used the water to bless his grandchildren and great-granddaughter.
Social media went “gross!”
Mark Wahlberg: Bless him father, for he hath sinned. The “Ted” star, who hosted a celebrity-studded event for the pope Saturday night in Philadelphia, cracked a joke about his naughty R-rated movie in front of the pontiff. After 14-year-old Bobby Hill sang, Wahlberg hugged the boy and then turned to the crowd.
“That right there was truly the voice of an angel,” Wahlberg told the audience. “But then he whispered in my ear that he loved the movie ‘Ted,’ and I told him that was not appropriate for a boy of his age. Holy Father, please forgive me. I’ve always hoped that the good Lord has a sense of humor when it comes and pertains to many of the movies that I’ve made.”
The pope, apparently not a “Ted” fan, showed no response.
U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp: The Catholic congressman from Kansas tweeted about Vice President Joe Biden’s Catholic faith on social media a few minutes before Pope Francis addressed Congress on Thursday.
Huelskamp ripped Biden for supporting abortion rights, a conflict with what the Catholic Church teaches.
Twitter was quick to call out Huelskamp for hypocrisy, questioning his stance on the death penalty, which also conflicts with Catholic teaching.