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People Outside Washington, D.C., Basilica Share Why Pope Francis Resonates

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

And we begin this hour at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception here in Washington D.C. We are here with the thousands of people who have come to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis. In a few minutes, we will actually hear about the mass that Pope Francis led at the Basilica. But first, we wanted to get a sense from these people, people who waited for hours to see the pope and what brought them here. People like Annabella Penagos (ph) from Gaithersburg, Md.

ANNABELLA PENAGOS: Pope Francis is really going to your heart in an active way. Go up. Go up. Go out. Just talk about the - God is alive. That's his message, and that's why we're here. I think all the Catholics feel this way.

MCEVERS: There are all kinds of people at the Basilica. Some are dressed up. Some are more casual. There's a group of naval officers in uniform and groups of nuns and priests. And what's interesting, especially here in Washington, is what we don't see and hear. There are no protests, no signs, no chants. Abby Fitzgerald is a student at nearby Catholic University. She says this pope is reaching more young people and people who aren't even Catholic.

ABBY FITZGERALD: I like how he has very much submersed himself in, like, the modern society. So he will comment on capitalism. He will comment on, you know, what we should do when it comes to people who are lesbian or gay - like, how to kind of go about all of these things. And I think that's something other people who are not part of the faith can come and see and look at that and see - OK, maybe not - not the Catholic faith or not everyone in the Catholic faith is corrupt or whatever they may have - or the negative image they may have. It kind of allows them to see - look, this man is doing this trying to reach out.

MCEVERS: Gayle Slowe and Marie Ricks made the trip from Baltimore. They say they like that this pope says things that other popes haven't said before.

GAYLE SLOWE: They were covered up.

MARIE RICKS: One of the things is encouraging the church to allow people that have been excommunicated from the church to come back in because of divorce. The other is forgiveness for abortion. Those are huge.

MCEVERS: You hear that from your community that...

RICKS: Yes.

MCEVERS: ...These things matter.

RICKS: Yes, they do.

MCEVERS: These things make them feel like they belong again?

SLOWE: Yes.

RICKS: Yes, and I believe that we're going to see a re-energizing of people coming back into the faith because of these things.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing in foreign language). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.