While Pope Francis called on Congress to “keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty ,” 200 homeless people waited inside of St. Patrick’s Church to pray with him.
Directly following his address to Washington's elite political class at the Capitol , he arrived at an event in downtown D.C. hosted by Catholic Charities, where the pontiff was able to spend time among society's most vulnerable population.
Francis’ Fiat drove through a parade of chanting crowds lining F Street Northwest and looking out windows from Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and myriad office buildings. As he headed inside St. Patrick's, he turned and waved to those around.
He offered a blessing at the front of the church and greeted the homeless. Then, Francis entered Catholic Charities next door, where he blessed a small chapel before attending the lunch.
His last Washington stop before departing from Joint Base Andrews at 4 p.m., the lunch next to the church was full with more than 50 tables for guests, hundreds of which were from 26 of Catholic Charities’ housing programs. The housing ranges from low-barrier shelters, domestic violence shelters and family shelters.
George Shaw, resident counselor from 801 East Men’s Shelter, located on the campus of St. Elizabeth's in Southeast Washington, told CQ Roll Call, “This is the first time I’ve ever been able to touch the pope. … It’s powerful for me.”
A shelter resident, Michael White, said, “I’m one of the homeless guys in the shelter and trust me, I trust this man,” referring to Shaw.
Another resident counselor, Larry A. Gooch said, “We’re here to serve."
Francis offered brief remarks, blessed the meal and greeted many of the attendees. He candidly touched hands and blessed the heads of children, including two of the student volunteers from Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Md.
Serving the food were volunteers from St. Maria’s Meals, which serves food at this location on Wednesday nights. After an hour, Francis departed the venue to a chanting crowd which had formed in front of the church.
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