Bishop Lennon on meeting with Pope Francis: It was a “very happy, special time”

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CLEVELAND-- Perhaps the best story Bishop Richard Lennon has about his time with Pope Francis this week in Washington, D.C. concerns a stranger who the bishop happened to meet while walking out of church after the Pope had said mass.

Turning to the man, Bishop Lennon asked, "Wasn't that wonderful?"   And the bishop recalls the man turning to him and saying, "Yes, and I'm Methodist."

After a hearty laugh, the bishop said the encounter shows the unifying power of Francis' papacy."(That man) didn't feel like he was intruding...(and) I thanked him for coming."

Bishop Lennon, the leader of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, said having a pope in the United States for only the fourth time ever is an exhilarating experience. He said the Pope was very clear about why he feels so strongly about issues ranging from poverty to climate change.

"It's about people," Bishop Lennon says, "it's not the issues for the issues sake; it's how they impact on people's lives."

The bishop acknowledged that there has been some resistance from some quarters about the Pope weighing in on what have traditionally been seen as more political issues.

But he says the Pope sees any issue through the prism of its impact on people.

"It's not this is political and this is pastoral," the bishop says.

Pope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday. He spoke at the White House, and celebrated mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, D.C.

Thursday night, he led an evening prayer at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. He was at an interfaith prayer service in New York Friday, after visiting Ground Zero and speaking at the United Nations. This weekend, he visits Philadelphia. Stay with for live coverage through the day and weekend.

**CLICK HERE for more on Pope Francis' visit to the U.S.**


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