North Texans help welcome Pope Francis

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Pope Francis met President Obama at the White House Wednesday.

An estimated 15,000 people gathered on the South Lawn in the morning to help welcome him to the nation's capital.

Dallas County Commissioner Clay Jenkins, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R, Dallas), Rep. Marc Veasey (D, Fort Worth) and the bishops of the Dallas and Fort Worth diocese were among the crowd.

Jenkins said he was loaded down with rosary beads and other items people had asked him to have blessed by the pope.

Speaking to the crowd, Pope Francis said he “hopes to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future.”

He talked about climate change and what he called the “common home” for American Catholics.

“American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive,” he said. “When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment in history.”

Obama commended him for "shaking us out of complacency" and giving people confidence to pursue a world that is more loving, just and free.

Some North Texas Catholics want to but do not have the opportunity to welcome the Pope in person.


However, they are still taking part in his visit from a distance.

At Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Oak Cliff, the Pope's visit is also an opportunity to learn, and in a way, get to know the leader of the Catholic Church.

Some students commented on the Pope's choice of transportation: a Fiat.

“He's the Pope,” said Jospeh Buford, a junior at Bishop Dunne. “He can ride in anything, but he chooses to be humble.”

Students have also commented how people of many faiths have taken interest.

“It’s interesting to learn how much of an influence the Pope has on our lives,” said Seipriya Lammata, a senior at Bishop Dunne.

While the students watched from afar, North Texans are still represented at events with the Pope.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins talked to FOX 4 by phone on his way to the Kennedy Center for a performance honoring the Pope.

Over the next six days, the head of the Catholic Church is also scheduled to visit New York and Philadelphia.

North Texans can see part of his visit with a free event Sunday called “Pope in the Park.”

A bilingual praise and worship concert starts at 2 p.m. in Klyde Warren Park and then at 3 p.m. the big screens will simulcast a papal mass.

Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell will offer a special blessing to families.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.