The pope is in New York City Thursday.
His plane landed at JFK airport and he was ferried by a Marine helicopter to a Wall Street heliport at the southern end of Manhattan.
In New York, Francis’ stops include the United Nations and Madison Square Gardens, as well as a somber visit to the September 11 Memorial. There is also a processional through the famed Central Park.
Earlier Thursday in Washington, the pope delivered a historic speech to members of Congress, the Supreme Court and the American people.
He passionately discussed several issues impacting the United States and the global community.
“I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave,’” started Pope Francis amid the rare joint gathering of Senate and House members.
The visit to Capitol Hill granted the Holy Father an audience directly with lawmakers who’ve continued to clash on positions including abortion, human rights and income disparity.
“All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today,” Francis said while addressing religious extremism in regards to the growing threat of international terrorism.
The speech, delivered without a teleprompter and entirely in English, was a reminder of how even amid a divided Congress one man can unite leaders in a common cause.
Outside the Capitol, thousands of Francis supporters joined to watch the speech on jumbotrons setup around the National Mall.
Surprisingly the most emotional reactions to Francis’ visit came from members of Congress including Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner who was visibly emotional while Francis spoke from capitol balcony.
Hawaii’s lawmakers said his words left a great impression.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D, Hawaii:
“I want to mention three things. He’s a man of great humanity and so he reminded us to live by the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The second point was one that really spoke to me as an immigrant myself. He referred to himself as a child of immigrants and to show compassion toward immigrants, so that certainly resonated with me. Third, there were people who thought he would talk about climate change, and he talked about in the context of the need to have an integrated approach to fighting poverty, protecting the most vulnerable in our community — that would be children, young people, seniors — and integrating that with protecting nature. So I thought he covered a lot of the bases and I really admire this pope.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D, Hawaii:
“The pope’s message today and his presence in Washington brings a sense of spirituality that I think transcends politics and transcends partisanship, which is so needed right now. It’s one of the biggest problems we face here in Washington, is the partisanship and the lack of the Aloha spirit. So he brought a message today that reminded everyone about the need to remember who we work for, to remember that we serve the people, that we serve our planet, and that we need to dedicate our efforts to work together to make sure that we are doing just that, taking care of the people and taking care of our home. I think overall, as he brought up many different issues that face us here at home in the U.S. as well as challenges and tragedies that are occurring around the world, really the underlying message that the pope delivered to Congress today was about care, was about compassion and remembering exactly who we serve.”
Rep. Mark Takai, D, Hawaii:
“His historic address underscored the fact that he is committed to finding solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time. During his speech, the Pope stressed that now is the time for courageous action and that is exactly what I think is needed to spark the greater dialogue to address these global issues. His Holiness called on members of Congress to remember their responsibility to care for the most vulnerable among us, to exercise compassion for those who come to our shores seeking the American dream, and the importance of acting as responsible stewards of our earth. His words resonate with those who have chosen the path of service and serve as a moral compass as we work to improve the lives of all Americans.”
Francis will depart for Rome on Sunday after a mass with the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.