But questions remain about next steps in the sexual-abuse crisis and outreach to young Catholics.
With his face-to-face meeting with sexual-abuse victims, he stirred fresh expectation within a US church that has long been in limbo. He reminded Americans and those at the United Nations of the moral strengths – and responsibilities – of free and prosperous nations. His soft-spoken manner and nuanced messages gave a very different impression from his reputation as a hard-nosed conservative.
The jubilant welcome from the crowds, however, doesn't mean Roman Catholics are ready to change their views on church teachings. And along with sighs of relief, serious questions remain in the minds of the faithful. What happens now with the sexual-abuse crisis? Will words lead to actions? And what will he do to reach young Catholics, who are increasingly disconnected from the church?
Without doubt, the most momentous event of the six days was the pope's secret session in Washington with five victims of abuse from Boston. It was the only meeting in which he did most of the listening.
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