Chaplain blesses Francis

by Elizabeth A. Elliott

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“One Jesuit to another” is how he greeted and blessed Pope Francis when the pontiff came to address a joint session of Congress Sept. 24., Jesuit Fr. Pat Conroy told NCR.

Conroy, chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives since May 2011, said he knew the only encounter he and Senate chaplain Barry C. Black would get was when the pope first entered the building and that he only had about 20 seconds to say anything.

“Rather than try to engage in poor Spanish in some sort of conversation, I asked him [in Spanish] if I could bless him,” Conroy told NCR. “It would only take a few seconds, it is easy for me to do and he might appreciate it more than a simple exchange.”

The pope’s message seemed to reach across both aisles and Conroy said he hasn’t heard a single voice that thought it was political.

“It was understood he wasn’t saying anything in an accusatory manner,” said Conroy. “He wasn’t providing policy or saying something needs to be done. I don’t think anyone walked out of there feeling picked on.”

[Elizabeth A. Elliott, is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Contact her at]

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