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Pope Francis Attends Service At St. Patrick's Cathedral In New York


Pope Francis is in New York. He arrived to cheers, flags waving and a band playing "New York, New York." It's been a pretty big trip so far. Today Francis became the first pope to address Congress. He issued a call to action on immigration, climate change and the death penalty. But mostly, he urged lawmakers to cooperate.


POPE FRANCIS: The call to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.

MCEVERS: In the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good - and the tireless Sylvia Poggioli has been with the pope every step of the way. She talked to us earlier from the tarmac in New York as the pope arrived.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: The pope was greeted by local authorities, the governor, the mayor. You see a lot of cardinals and bishops on the tarmac. And tomorrow, he gives a speech to the generals of the United Nations. We expect he will again address the environment, which is one of his issues he's very passionate about. He will probably urge world leaders to finally reach an agreement on setting guidelines to limit greenhouse gases and global warming.

MCEVERS: And now to St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown Manhattan.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in Spanish).

MCEVERS: Those are the voices of the people outside the church chanting, "Pope Francis, the people are with you" in Spanish. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang is on the street with the crowds. And Hansi, it sounds like it's a scene there. What's happening around you?

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Well, I'm standing here in a crowd right next to a fountain here in Rockefeller Center right across from St. Patrick's Cathedral. There've been people here almost through the afternoon. And I've talked to some of the New Yorkers here, including Sean Gordon (ph) of Brooklyn. Here's what he said.

SEAN GORDON: You have people on the street, just total strangers, meeting each other and, you know, a spirit of happiness and camaraderie and talking to each other about a common thing.

MCEVERS: You said Sean's from Brooklyn. Who else is in the crowd? Is it mostly New Yorkers or people from all over?

WANG: No. You've got plenty of out-of-towners. Some of them came specifically to come see Pope Francis, including Kay Tennis (ph) of Grand Rapids, Mich. She came with her daughter and 10-year-old granddaughter. And she told me she saw Pope John Paul II, and she told me what it means to her to see a pope in person. Here's what she said.

KAY TENNIS: You will feel it in your heart. The Holy Spirit will move in your heart. Once you have it, you'll never forget it. You'll always know that you were in his aura.

WANG: I also talked to Rosa Ferrer (ph) of Venezuela, and she told me what this pope in particular means to her. Here's what she said.

ROSA FERRER: We're very happy to have a pope who represents us people from Latin America, somebody who's not talking about hate or punishment. It's more often he's speaking about forgiveness. It's a very important message.

MCEVERS: Now, Hansi, what can you tell us about the cathedral there where the pope will be visiting tonight?

WANG: Well, St. Patrick's Cathedral is the mother church of New York's archdiocese. It's very white because they just recently cleaned it, gone through renovations that cost more than $170 million and actually sped up the renovations 'cause they knew Pope Francis was coming - cleaned and replaced some of the marble and wooden confessionals inside.

MCEVERS: Now, how is security there in Manhattan?

WANG: Well, there are lots of fences and police and Secret Service around these sites that Pope Francis is coming to. And the major effect is on the commute. Officials are saying don't drive. Take the subway. Be patient. But of course, as you know, the best way to get around New York is to walk.

MCEVERS: That's NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reporting outside St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City where the pope is attending an evening prayer service. Thanks so much, Hansi.

WANG: You're welcome, Kelly. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Hansi Lo Wang (he/him) is a national correspondent for NPR reporting on the people, power and money behind the U.S. census.
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