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Pope Francis Holds Mass at Catholic University. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 23, 2015 - 17:00   ET




[17:01:51] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM. CNN's live coverage of the pope's historic and remarkable day here in Washington is continuing this hour.

Right now he is celebrating mass for 35,000 of the faithful. This is right outside the largest Catholic Church in the U.S. But even it isn't big enough to hold everyone who has come to see and to pray with him.

This is the first mass that the pope has celebrated in the U.S. and the church's first canonization on U.S. soil. The choice of a Hispanic saint is seen as a nod to the pope's views on immigration.

And I want to start by bringing in Jim Sciutto. He's been following the proceedings throughout the entire day. Tell us what we are seeing now, Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is -- this is one of the most elaborate masses you'll ever see. It's going to go on for two hours, and it starts with a special moment of the first canonization to take place on U.S. soil. There have been other American saints.

For instance, it was interesting that the gift that the president gave the pope today included a key from Elizabeth Anne Seaton, who was the first, I believe the first American saint. But it's the first time that the canonization has taken place on U.S. soil. And that's the first installment, in effect, of this mass which will then go onto a traditional Catholic mass. And just a remarkable setting for it, as well.

KEILAR: Oh, it certainly is. As we watch this and we listen here to the music at this mass.

John Allen, our senior Vatican analyst, this is a huge event not just for Washington, D.C., but for the entire country. This mass and also the canonization here on U.S. soil.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Well, it's actually a huge event for the entire world. Let's remember that's what making a saint is. But now this saint is venerated by the entire Catholic world. And particularly a saint like this, who is in a kind of -- you know, it illustrates the point that the Catholic Church was globalized before globalization was a concept.

This is a man from Spain who became a member of an international religious order, who came to the new world and evangelized what is now California.

I think in a particular way, it's significant for the Hispanic community in the United States, which is such an increasingly important part of the Catholic Church. One-third of all Catholics in America today, you know, projections are it will be almost half of the Catholic Church in the United States by the middle of this century. And this is a kind of papal shot in the arm by lifting up a saint who, in a sense, represents that community.

KEILAR: This is really an outstanding moment that we're watching here, Delia. Delia Gallagher, our Vatican correspondent here with us. He -- you know, it seems as if the pope has shunned some of the pomp and circumstance that we could have seen with this event. A 21-gun salute earlier, that did not happen because it just didn't really seem in line with his tastes and the tone that he has taken as the people's pope.

When you're looking at this though, this is so much -- it's majestic. There's so much imagery here. And there's a lot of pomp and circumstance.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually that's exactly right. It's kind of representative of the two faces of Catholicism that Pope Francis represents, which is one is traditional and sticks by the book. And is part of that beauty of the liturgy, for sure, and the pomp and circumstance.

[17:05:14] And the other is the humble immigrant, care for the poor, the face of Jesus reaching out to people. So I think, actually, in a symbolic way I hadn't thought of it before, this kind of encompasses that, where we have those two sides of the whole Catholic Church that the pope has been trying to stress.

KEILAR: Tell us about what we are going to be seeing ahead. The pope will give a homily as part of this mass. He will be sharing a message. This is the sermon.

GALLAGHER: Yes. He gives a homily during the mass. And this mass is particularly interesting, because we've just heard, actually, a reading in the Native American language. And we know that this canonization has been problematic for some in the Native American community in California.

And I think as a nod to that, they included and probably not many people picked up on it, because we don't really hear that language quite a lot, but the first reading was in the Native American language. And after this mass the pope will be meeting with a group of Native Americans from California.

So they are making, I think, a concerted effort to include that community also in this canonization mass in addition, of course, to the Latin-American community here in the United States for whom the pope feels particular affection.

KEILAR: You know, John -- let me see if we're going to be listening to this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord always. As I say it again...

KEILAR: We want to listen for a moment as the mass goes forward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... the Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all and everything by prayer and petition for thanksgiving. Make your request known to God. Then the peace of God that shall pass us all understanding with all your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have done and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.


KEILAR: John Allen, our senior Vatican analyst, with us again.

As we are watching the mass here, you see Pope Francis there. We are expecting that he will be giving a homily, a sermon, as part of this. But this is the canonization of Father Junipero Serra.

Having grown up in California, this is someone you learn a lot about when you're talking about state history, when you're learning about California missions. I remember as a child he was someone who was exalted in history.

But in more recent times, as is the case with so much history, I think historians take a more complex view of him. And that's really one of the -- and that brings us to the issue of why this is a little controversial, even as the pope tries to balance this.

ALLEN: You know, back in the day, many moons ago, I taught high school in California. And it seemed like half the teams we played football against were named Serra. So I know what you mean.

Well, the controversy basically is this. Junipero Serra was part of the colonization of what is today California. He was a very successful evangelizer, meaning a missionary, meaning he converted many native persons to the faith.

Now, we all know that there were terrific abuses associated with colonization. The church was, in some ways, interwoven with those abuses or at least benefitted it, in terms of increasing its membership. So some would say that the canonization that is declaring a saint of someone associated with the colonial enterprise is sort of whitewashing history.

Now, what the Vatican did is it reached a conclusion that Serra, although he was a man of his times and part of that period, did what he could within the context and limits of his time, to try to protect the natives, to try to uphold their rights and try to shield them from the worst abuses of the colonial period. So at least in their eyes, he's worthy of this honor. And obviously, Pope Francis agrees, because not only did he declare Serra a saint, he fast-tracked him. He dispensed with the second miracle requirement in order to do this quickly.

[17:10:05] KEILAR: And this is the first canonization on U.S. soil. A very significant move, not just for the U.S. but for the country, as

you've said, John.

Take a look at these pictures that we have, Jim, of the crowd size here. I mean, you've been watching all of the proceedings throughout the day since the arrival of the pope yesterday in Washington. This is something that is attracting so much interests, certainly from faithful Catholics, but just in general, even from people who are not part of the religion.

SCIUTTO: No question. And you know it's interesting. You look at this pope here and you talk about the signs of his personality.

I'm sure he is enjoying this moment. He enjoys to be -- to make this historical decision to canonize in front of so many people here in the U.S., first time in the U.S.

But this is also a pope, part of his mission. And this is a time Junipero Serra is get out in the field, right? This is what he's encouraging the bishops as he spoke to them today, priests around the world get out into the flock. Right? And carry home even the smell of your sheep as the shepherd.

That's part of his message, and I think Serra reflected that. He was ultimately a person who went out there in the flock. And the story struck me being Father Tim Kesicki (ph), the head of the Jesuits in the U.S. and Canada earlier. He said he's met Pope Francis a couple times, but said he's uncomfortable meeting him more than a couple of times. Because the pope doesn't want you to meet him and have a coffee and sit there in Rome and talking about it. He wants you out in the field and meeting with your parishioners.

BLITZER: Maybe he wants a progress report the next time you meet with him.

He wants to see you and you've heard this story many times today, but it always sticks in my mind. First thing he does is look at your shoes. Because if your shoes aren't dirty, you haven't been working hard enough. You've got to get out there in the field.

And I think that, you know, the tie to Serra is key. And also just seeing him. The pomp and circumstance is fantastic. Seeing him at the White House was fantastic, but this guy loves to be connecting with people.

ALLEN: And part of the reasons when he was a bishop he did not travel as much, it's one of the first reasons he's come to the U.S. now. I mean, he was -- like you said, he was a doer and a worker, but inside the Capitol tomorrow, when the pope passes through to give his speech, he's going to pass a statue of the man he is about to canonize a saint.

He's been in statuary hall in the U.S. Capitol since 1931, one of two statues from the state of California, so has been in Washington for a very long time in statue, but a pointed moment that Speaker Boehner is pointing out that they have put that statue in statuary hall. So it's a bit of a controversy. The California legislature has talked about trying to replace him over the years, but he is in the Capitol. And tomorrow will be a saint when the pope walks by him.

We had an interview -- sorry, we had an interview with California Governor Jerry Brown for the site that I work for, "Crux," which is sponsored by "The Boston Globe." And we asked him this question, you know, "Is the Serra statue coming out?"

And he said, "It will be there until the end of time."

Then I asked him, "Is it really within your authority as governor to issue a proclamation like that?"

He said, "Well. I'm going to do everything I can."

SCIUTTO: ... piece of legislature. But it's been there since 1931.

ALLEN: yes.

KEILAR: Part of the message that we've heard throughout the day, Delia, is this concept of going forth. You mentioned this, Jim, sort of going forth doing God's work and doing so with joy. Maybe not focusing -- respecting doctrine, obviously, but focusing, perhaps, on the tone of engaging parishioners. Is this the overarching message that the pope brings?

GALLAGHER: Well, what's interesting about that is that, in his talk to the bishops, I think what he's done is given them a big package. Because as Jim was saying earlier, you know, looking at their shoes, what he's saying is, "This is your job. I'm one of you. I'm a bishop amongst you."

And the background to that is a question of kind of the central authority of Rome. And what this pope is doing in a number of cases is saying, "You are as important. Your opinions are important to me."

And we'll see that again in October at the Vatican.

"And your mission is as important as my mission. And so the ball is in your court." He said, "I have not come to condemn you or to judge you. I've come to give you some suggestions for how you can do it. But it's up to you guys to do it."

And that's really important for the bishops of the Catholic Church and for the priest and, indeed, for the nuns, all of those who are engaged in the work of the Catholic Church throughout this country.

KEILAR: It certainly is a call to action.

I think we are going to begin to hear the pope speak. And we will be pausing as that begins. But before we do, Jim, do we have -- and maybe John, you can answer this. Do we have any idea how people were able to attend this event? This is something that so many people in the area would want -- that they would want to come and see?

SCIUTTO: Well, I know I've been asked for tickets by a lot of people, but I haven't been able to deliver them.

ALLEN: Some students of Catholic University are there, I know, as well as some parishioners of this basilica. I know that -- I'm a parishioner of St. Matthews, and a very small limited number were given out, as well.

KEILAR: And the pope is now beginning the homily.

POPE FRANCIS (through translator): I shall say it again, rejoice. These are striking words. Words which impact our lives.

Paul tells us to rejoice. He practically orders us to rejoice. This command resonates with the desire we all have for a fulfilling life. A meaningful life, a joyful life. It is as if Paul could hear what each one of us is thinking in his or her heart, and to voice what we are feeling, what we are experiencing. Something deep within us invites us to rejoice and tells us not to settle for placebos which simply keep us comfortable.

At the same time, though, we all know the struggles of everyday life. So much seems to stand in the way of the inclination to rejoice. Our daily routine can often lead us to a kind of glum apathy, which gradually becomes a habit with a fatal consequence. Our hearts grow numb. We don't want apathy to guide our lives. Or do we? We don't want the force of habit to rule our life, or do we?

So we often ask ourselves what can we do to keep our heart from growing numb, from becoming miserable (ph)? How do we make the joy of the gospel increase and dig deeper in our lives?

And Jesus gives us the answer. He said to his disciples then and says it to us now, go forth, proclaim. The joy of the gospel is something to experience, something to be known and lived only through giving it away. Through giving ourselves away. The spirit of the world tells us to be like everyone else, to settle for what comes easy.

Faced with this way of thinking, we must regain the conviction that we need -- that we have a shared responsibility for others. It is the responsibility to proclaim the message of Jesus. For the source of our joy is an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of our own experience of the power of the Father's infinite mercy.

Go out to all. Proclaim by anointing and anoint by proclaiming. This is what the Lord tells us today. He tells us a Christian finds joy in mission. Go out to people of every nation. A Christian experiences joy in following a command. Go forth and proclaim good news. A Christian finds every joy in answering a call. Go forth and anoint. Jesus sends his disciples out to all nations, to every people. We,

too, are a part of all those people of 2,000 years ago.

[17:20:08] Jesus did not provide a short list of who is or who is not worthy of receiving his message, his presence. Instead he always embraced life as he saw it. And faces of pain, hunger, sickness and sin. In faces of wounds, of thirst, doubt and pity.

Far from expecting a pretty life, smartly dressed and neatly groomed, he embraced life as he found it. It made no difference whether it was dirty, unkempt or broken. Jesus said go out and tell the good news to everyone. Go out and, in my name, embrace life as it is and not as you think it should be.

Go out to the highways and bi-ways. Go out to tell the good news fearlessly without prejudice, without superiority, without condensation. Go out to all those, go out to embrace the merciful embrace of the father. Go out to those who are burdened by pain and failure, who feel that their lives are empty, and proclaim the folly of a loving father who wants to anoint them with the oil of hope, the oil of salvation. Go out to proclaim the good news that error, deceitful illusions and falsehoods do not have the last word in a person's life. Go out with the ointment which soothes wounds and heals hearts.

Mission is never the fruit of a perfectly-planned program or a well- organized manual. Mission is always the fruit of a life which knows what it is to be found and healed, encountered and forgiven. Mission is born of a constant expression of God's merciful anointing.

The church, the holy people of God thus laid in paths of history, so often traversed by conflict, injustice and violence in order to encounter her children, our brothers and sisters.

The holy and faithful people of God are not afraid of losing their way. They are afraid of becoming self-enclosed, frozen into elites, clinging to their own security. They know that self-enclosure, in all of the many forms it takes, is the cause of so much apathy.

So let us go out. Let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ. The people of God can embrace everyone, because we are the disciples of the one who knelt before his own to wash their feet.

The reason we're here today is that many other people wanted to respond to that call. They believed that life grows by giving away. And it weakens in isolation and comfort.

[17:25:05] We are heirs to the bold missionary spirit of so many men and women, who preferred not to be shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security. Within habits which make us feel safe while, at our door, people are starving. We are indebted to a tradition, a chain of witnesses who have made it possible for the good news of the gospel to be in every generation, both good and news.

And today we remember one of those witnesses who testified to the joy of the gospel in these lands. Father Junipero Serra, he was the embodiment of a church which goes forth, a church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling, tenderness of God. Junipero Serra left his native land and its way of life. He was excited about blazing trails going forth to meet many people, learning and valuing the particular customs and ways of life.

He learned -- he learned how to bring to birth and nurture God's life in the faces of the native community -- of everyone he met. Junipero Serra sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who have mistreated and abused it. Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they caused in the lives of many people.

Father Serra had a motto which inspired his life and work. A saying he lived his life by. Siempre adalante. Keep moving forward.

For him this was the way to continue experiencing the joy of the gospel, to keep his heart from growing numb, from being anesthetized. He kept moving forward because the Lord was waiting. He kept going because his brothers and sisters were waiting for him. He kept going forward to the end of his life. Today, like him, may we always be able to say, forward. Let's keep moving forward.

KEILAR: You are watching CNN's live coverage of the pope's first mass in the United States. That is the conclusion of the liturgy, the pope giving the homily there as we move into the next phase of this mass.

John Allen, our senior Vatican analyst. This was -- we heard this theme over and over: Don't let your heart go numb. He talked about it generally. He talked about it as it pertained to Junipero Serra, who is being canonized today.

ALLEN: Yes, actually I think the two key words from this homily, which he repeated over and over again almost like a mantra, were go forth, go forth. Which means get out of your own self-absorption and get out there in the street. Get out there in the world and make a difference.

Serra is a man who did that, left his home, became a Franciscan missionary, helped bring the faith to what is now California, founding what have become some of the greatest cities in the world: San Francisco, San Diego and so on.

And I think that is very characteristic of Francis's vision of what service is all about. It's about getting out of your own issues and meeting people where they live.

Now, from a news point of view -- of course, that was the spiritual highlight of the homily. From a news point of view, I think the most interesting point was the pope's fairly ringing defense of Serra against some of the criticism that has been leveled against him of being complicit, the abuse of native persons in the period of colonization.

He said on the contrary, that Serra attempted to defend the native people he served and protect them, shield them from abuses. So obviously, this is one case in which the pope has decided that, basically, the critics have it wrong.

KEILAR: So he very much a defense there of Junipero Serra.

[17:30:05] GALLAGHER: Yes. And also in that, setting the bar very high once again for Catholics and probably non, he would say. He says, you know, Jesus didn't expect a pretty life, smartly dressed people and to be neatly groomed. He embraced life as he found it. And that's one of the things that has been said over and over about Pope Francis, that he is continuing to reiterate.

And it also occurs to me that he's presenting in all of these talks a kind of sacred angle on immigration, on environment that maybe most people, when they think of those issues, have never really considered.

KEILAR: All right. We are actually going to get in a quick break as we move here into the liturgy of the Eucharist. We'll be back in just a few minutes to talk more about the pope's first mass in the United States.


[17:35:33] KEILAR: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm Brianna Keilar. And we are bringing you live pictures of the papal mass at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. This is going to be the pope's last event of the day that started this morning with a visit to the White House.

Tomorrow is bringing another highlight of the pope's first trip to the U.S. It's an address to a joint meeting of Congress, much-anticipated by both Republicans and Democrats.

Right now I want to get to CNN's Chris Cuomo. He is there at Catholic University watching this service. So many people there, Chris. What are really the takeaways of the pope's message that they received today?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Well, you know, Brianna, that's the right question. This is very interesting. He is by definition preaching to the converted, right? Catholic University, created by the U.S. bishops in 1887, 3,500 seminarians. Those studying the faith here, with 1,000 con celebrating priests. These are his people.

And yet, his message is something different, very different than what they're used to hearing in homilies. Homilies in the United States are about what you believe and the rules and applying that to what else is said in society. He's saying it is not what you say. Your faith is what you do. He is literally telling them to get up, get into the world and proclaim. But proclaim doesn't mean with your mouth. It means with your feet and your hands.

There are two phrases that captured it all that are in Spanish. "Haciendo un lio," which is a signature phrase of Pope Francis. It means go make a ruckus. Don't talk about it, get out there and do something about what you say matters in the world.

And he also borrowed a phrase from the man they just made a pope [SIC], Junipero Serra. He said one of his signature phrases was, "siempre aldelantre (ph)," ever forward.

Again, the call is clear. He is telling American Catholics get up, get on your feet and go do something. As Jimmy Sciutto was reporting earlier, he looks at a priest's shoes. Are they dirty? Have you been working the streets? Have you been making a difference or just talking about it? That's really very important here.

Now, he also has involved the most vulnerable in the mass. You saw that there were people throughout it evidencing, you know, their differences with how they are in the world. That's important to him. He believes in giving the most to the least among us, those who need the most help. That is symbolic. And that is active, which is what Pope Francis wants for this.

Now, one thing that needs to be said. On Junipero Serra there's controversy. There's no question. Professor Miranda who we had on earlier, who is part of this representative group of 50 tribes that don't believe he should be canonized because of the brutality to the culture of the native population. Pope Francis, as Delia Gallagher reports, is supposedly meeting with a group of Native Americans...

KEILAR: I just wonder, can you give us a sense -- can you give us a sense of what we're seeing now with this presentation of the gifts?

CUOMO: Yes. You're right. That's exactly what this is. Right now this is the beginning of the most sacred part of a Catholic mass. It is called the transubstantiation. It's the communion rite, where the pope will take bread and wine and turn it for Catholics into literally the body and blood of Jesus. It is not symbolic. It's not representative of it as it is for protestants. Catholics believe it is actual. That's why they call transubstantiation, changing the mass.

But just so you know, the pope is supposedly meeting with Native Americans, but not ones that oppose Serra. Only those that are in favor of his canonization. That's a big point for the critics.

KEILAR: That certainly is a very good point that you're making there, Chris Cuomo. So Delia, John, you're looking at what we're seeing here. This is part of the liturgy of the Eucharist. This is the presentation of the gifts that we just saw. And then tell us what we'll be moving into here.

ALLEN: Well, we're going to see the prayers of consecration. There is what are called the Eucharistic prayers in the Catholic Church. Eucharist is actually a Greek word that means "thanksgiving." So it's used to describe the supreme act of faith, to thank God for becoming man and sacrificing himself for the salvation of the world.

So the pope will recite one set of prayers. Then there will be a pause, very briefly when the congregation recites a line. And then there will be another prayer, which will culminate in the consecration. It is that moment when Catholics believe the priest celebrating the mass, in this case the Holy Father himself and those who are concelebrating with him, draw upon the power of God to convert that bread into the body of Christ and that wine into the blood of Christ still under the appearances of bread and wine. But with the real presence of Christ within them.

And then of course we'll see the Holy Father and those concelebrating with him distribute communion to the faithful. And then there will be a final set of prayers and then the mass will be over.

KEILAR: So much of this, Jim, is about exciting American Catholics and trying to give them this message of go forth, participate in service. I guess the question is, there's certainly so much excitement around this visit. But what is the thinking on whether this really will spur people to action?

SCIUTTO: This pope has been very specific about what he wants to see not just from American Catholics but from Americans, from citizens of the world. You have this general message go forth. As Chris was saying, go out and do something, make a difference.

But he has tied that to issues very much in the political conversation here. Climate change, this is a global responsibility. It's a shared responsibility in his view. Poverty, alleviating poverty, this is a global and a shared responsibility. Migrants, very much in the news in Europe, that was part of his conversation with the president today. So he's not having this discussion up in the ether somewhere. He's having it down here on the earth where he believes -- where he lives his life and he believes we should live our lives.

So he's connecting this general message of inspiration to real issues happening today and real responsibility, in his view, for Americans, Catholics, citizens of the world and leaders here in Washington, because we're going to hear these messages reflected tomorrow when he speaks to Congress, as well. Get something done on these issues today. Very specific.

KEILAR: You're watching CNN's live coverage of the pope's mass here in the United States. We'll take a quick break and be right back.


[17:46:43] KEILAR: You are watching CNN's continuing coverage of the Pope's visit to the U.S. and his first mass here. This is the most important part of the mass. Let's listen.

POPE FRANCIS, CATHOLIC CHURCH LEADER (Through Translator): Thanks. He said the blessing and gave the cows to the disciple saying, take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me. The mystery of faith.

Therefore, oh Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the saving passion of your son, his wondrous resurrection and ascension into heaven, and as we look forward to his second coming, we offer you in thanksgiving his holy and living sacrifice. Look we pray up on the oblation of your church and recognizing the sacrificial victim by his death you willed to reconcile us to yourself, grant that we who are nourished by the body and the blood of your son and filled with his holy spirit may become one body, one spirit in Christ. Make he make of us an eternal offering to you so that we may obtain an

inheritance with your elect especially with the most blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, his blessed Joseph, her spouse, with your blessed apostles and glorious martyrs, and with San Junipero Serra and with all the saints on whose constant intercession in your presence will rely for unfailing help.

May the sacrifice of a reconciliation we pray, oh Lord, advance the peace and solation of all the world. Be please to confirm in faith, entirety, your pilgrim church on earth. With your servant, Francis our Pope, my brother Donald, the bishop of this church, and me, your unworthy servant, the Order of Bishops, all the clergy and the entire people you have gained for your own.

Listen graciously to the prayers of these families whom you have summoned before you. In your compassion, oh merciful Father, gather to yourself all your children scattered throughout the world toward the departed brothers and sisters and to all who are pleasing to you that are passing from this life, give kind admittance to your kingdom.

There we hope to enjoy forever the fullness of your glory through Christ, our lord, through whom you bestow on the world all that is good.

Through him and with him and in him, oh God almighty father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours. Forever and ever.

KEILAR: You are watching CNN's continuing coverage of the Pope's visit to the U.S. We are currently watching the first mass of the Pope in the United States.

Delia Gallagher, tell us what we just saw and what we're expecting next.

GALLAGHER: This is just reaching the conclusion of consecration, the part -- second part of the mass. What we'll have now is the Pope saying we can greet one another in the sign of peace, so they will all exchange a sign of peace then we'll have communion and the mass will end.

KEILAR: So it's a sign of greeting your neighbor, maybe greeting a stranger, John, that you --

ALLEN: Well, the traditional spiritual idea here is that before you receive communion with God, you should first reconcile with your neighbor, so the ideas of this exchange of peace is a symbolic way of entering into the spirit of communion.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: This of course is the "Lord's Prayer" that this incredible crowd is praying together. I mean, it's such a defining moment here. Now we'll be going into the sign of peace which could extend for a bit because it is so poignant in this mass with so many different types of people.

KEILAR: All right. We are going to bring you more, much more after a quick break. Stay with us.


[17:58:04] KEILAR: You are watching CNN's continuing coverage of the Pope's visit to the United States. His first mass underway in Washington, D.C. as we speak.

It's really interesting, Jeff Zeleny, as we see this huge ceremony going on, that a lot of -- this is about not just sort of the spiritual aspect of the Pope's visit but also the political aspect of it. He'll be speaking to Congress tomorrow, he has things to say that certainly will be received well and also maybe not received well by both parties.

ZELENY: No question. Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, a life-long Catholic, a devoted Catholic, has wanted a Pope to come address the Joint Session of Congress for so long. This is the third Pope he's invited and Pope Francis said yes. So some Republicans have been slightly critical wondering, is he going to be tougher on us tomorrow?

And Speaker Boehner put out a column just a little bit ago, and he said, "The Pope transcends all of that. He appeals to our better angels and higher callings. The best thing we can all do is to listen, to open our hearts to his message and reflect on his example."

So there you have a very conservative Republican basically telling his fellow Republicans and Democrats to chill out about this and to listen. And don't try and put this in the lens of our domestic politics. I think all day people, Republicans and Democrats, have been trying to put the Pope in a box of liberal or conservative using our political terms. Well, he's pro-life and pro-environment. So the teachings of Christ don't fit so neatly into this political box that we so often put things in.

KEILAR: It's such a good point, Jim, that he sort of spans this political divide and he said -- you followed him throughout the day. He's talked a couple of times now and some of his messages difficult for Democrats, as well.

SCIUTTO: No question. John Allen, sitting right next to me here, made this point earlier in the day. There is no Pope, really no leader who could speak on such a range of issues.