By Lauren Colegrove
VATICAN CITY — Standing in the crowd in St. Peter’s Square for Pope Francis’ first general audience, I did a few interviews, but a conversation I overheard was too good to ignore.
A little girl, who looked about 10 years old, was with a little boy watching the pope; I’m guessing the boy, who looked about 4, was her brother. The little guy commented on how many babies Pope Francis was kissing.
His big sister told him, “When we have babies we’ll come back and he will kiss them.”
Father Scott Kallal, a member of the Apostles of the Interior Life originally from the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., was translating the pope’s remarks from Italian into English for the parents of the two children.
Interviewed later, he said of Pope Francis, “Everyone loves that he wants to be close to us.”
The pope is “trying to make it clear that God really does love every single one of us as we are,” he said. “Whatever you’re going through … He (God) is just waiting for you to turn around.”
In my section of the square, as Pope Francis rode by in the popemobile, a group was singing, “Viva, viva Papa Francis” to the tune of “We Will Rock You.”
Angela and Mark Smith, Anglicans on vacation from Devon, England, said they wanted to see the new pope for themselves. “He has charisma, you can see how the people react to him.”
“He’s just got a lovely presence,” Angela said. “He definitely has cross-the-Christian-Church appeal,” especially with his message of caring for the poor.