What the Pope's Visit Means to America

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WASHINGTON - Pope Benedict XVI returned safely to the Vatican after completing his six day tour in the United States.

By many accounts, the trip is seen as an "enormous success."

But what was the impact of the pope's visit and where does it leave the American Catholic Church?

Click play to watch CBN News Correspondent John Jessup's report and Pat Robertson's analysis afterwards.

Pope Visits Ground Zero

Before his final farewell, the pope had a packed Sabbath's day schedule, lighting a candle, blessing the site at ground zero and praying for the victims who died on September 11.

"We ask in your goodness to give eternal light and peace to all who died here," the pope prayed.

Doves of peace flew over New York's Yankee Stadium, where 57,000 people celebrated mass in the makeshift "house of worship.

The pope called mass a "summons to move forward…to use the blessings of freedom. to build a future of hope" for the future."

There, he repeated a call for faith to intersect with public life, and specifically condemned abortion.

He also encouraged young people to "open their hearts to the lord's call" to the priesthood and religious life.

"I got shivers 'cause I could feel the presence of Christ through him. It was really amazing," said one attendee.

The pope's visit marked history from the moment he landed in the nation's capital to his address before the United Nations.

He attended a prayer service with 250 leaders of other religious faiths and paid a visit to a New York synagogue - the first leader of the Roman Catholic Church to do so.

"How good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in peace and unity," Rabbi Arthur Schneier said.

The pope said, "I find it moving to recall that Jesus, as a young boy, heard the words of Scripture and prayed in a place such as this."

Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal

But most notably, the pontiff directly waded into the controversy plaguing the Catholic Church in America, meeting with some of the victims who were sexually abused by priests.

"No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse," he said.

The victims he met say they're closer to finding the healing they need.

" an extraordinary moment to have an unfiltered, clean, face-to-face like this guy, good touch, touching hands. Not bad touch," said one abuse victim.

The Pope's Impact?

In the short-run, the visit seemingly accomplished its goal to reinvigorate the Church. And by the crowds who lined up to catch a glimpse of the pope, his visit did just that. But the long-term impact of pope's visit is yet to be determined.

What is clear is that the pope's display of candor and kindness had an effect on his American audiences, and America's warm welcome apparently had an effect on him as well. His final benediction? Go bless America.

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CBN News
John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Washington Correspondent

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