The faces of children dotted the crowd peering up at Pope Francis on a balcony of the Capitol, a presence he gave a special blessing as he greeted the masses.
“The most important ones here are children,” declared the pope as he surveyed the tens of thousands of people gathered on the West Front lawn of the Capitol for the historic occasion.
Scores of children perched on parents’ shoulders waved to the pontiff’s, while other children gazed up at him or played on the ground, oblivious to the commotion around them.
The pope’s words drifted above the sound of babies crying.
Melinda Peter brought her 6-year-old daughter, Karli Thomas, from their home in Fort Yukon, Alaska, to see Pope Francis.
“We just love him,” said Mrs. Peter, a health care worker and an Episcopalian. “We don’t think you have to be Catholic to love him.”
Sarah Myers, 13, who came with a group of students from Holy Trinity School in Washington, said that she was inspired by the pope’s address to Congress.
She said that she would try to follow the pope’s charge that “we shouldn’t stay on the sidelines but get out and act.”
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