Many people in northeastern and central Pennsylvania watch Pope Francis’ historic address before a joint session of Congress Thursday morning.
That included students and faculty at the University of Scranton.
Many students say, despite their age difference, they feel they can connect with the pope.
One of the things many students liked was when Pope Francis focused on four Americans as examples of dignity, justice and service to God.
When the pope invoked President Abraham Lincoln, Doctor Martin Luther King Junior, social activist Dorothy Day and catholic writer Thomas Merton, the students say they felt a connection to his words.
More than 100 students and staff members in all filled into an auditorium on campus to watch the pope’s address.
“I could not take my eyes away from him. Everything that he said was just fascinating!” University of Scranton freshman Cara Charles said.
From focusing on climate change, defending human life to wanting to abolish the death penalty, Pope Francis delivered blunt political messages at times.
Many in the crowd say his tone was the best thing of all. Some compared it to that of a “pep talk” and that made them want to listen.
“Instead of scolding, instead of condemning, instead of setting up more partisanship and animosity, he’s calling us, lets work together, lets figure these things out!” Father Rick Malloy, S.J. of the University of Scranton said.
Another big issue the pope advocated for: challenging American to embrace immigrants.
“We’re a country of immigrants and to turn our back on people who are coming to this country now, he really kind of rebuked Congress,” adjunct professor Mary Troy said.
Pope Francis is 78 years old but many of the students in the University of Scranton crowd still feel they can relate to him, calling him the “People’s Pope.”
“He just talks about things that we can actually relate to!” University of Scranton junior Donna Doherty said.
At the University of Scranton specifically, the pope’s message was important.
Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope and the University of Scranton is a Jesuit university.
That is a fact not lost on many of the students.
“Finally, somebody who is in the same position as us, looks at things from the same point of view and talks about them and we can understand and agree with what he is saying,” University of Scranton junior Brittany Lemardy said.
The University of Scranton does not have any formal bus trips going to see Pope Francis in either New York City or Philadelphia but some students say they are going to go down to try and get a glimpse of the pontiff for themselves.