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Dhaka Tribune

Pope in historic US visit

Update : 28 Sep 2015, 02:57 AM

Sometimes his political messages were blunt, like when he pleaded before the US Congress for Americans to end "hostility" toward immigrants. Other times, they were more subtle, like the climate-conscious pope's decision to ride around in a tiny Fiat rather than a gas-guzzling SUV.

While Vatican officials said the pope was only re-stating Church social teachings and not making political statements in his first US visit ever, many in the public and across the political landscape saw it differently.

Among them, 42-year-old Gabriela Muñoz of Brooklyn, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, who said the pope's comments on immigration had given her "a lot of hope and faith.

"Even if it's a small thing, it has to have touched the heart of congressmen," she said.

But in an acutely polarized Congress, it was unclear if lawmakers' minds were changed by Francis' words in Washington or at the United Nations, where he condemned the "boundless thirst" for wealth and power.

Shortly before arrival, Francis denied he was a leftist, despite his criticisms of the excesses of capitalism. His speeches gave both Democrats and Republican fodder to support the intense partisan battles that define modern Washington.

On some matters, he likely arrived too late to make a difference. The first Latin American pope reiterated, in a veiled reference, the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to abortion and defended traditional notions of the family in a nation where gay marriage is now the law of the land.

Beyond the halls of power, the immensely popular 78-year-old pope made numerous stops in Washington DC, New York City and Philadelphia to commune with the people, capping the visit with a huge open-air Mass in Philadelphia for hundreds of thousands of people on Sunday.

"Life means 'getting our feet dirty' from the dust-filled roads of life and history," the pope told a group of prisoners he visited Sunday morning. "All of us need to be cleansed, to be washed, all of us and me in the first place."

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