Pope Francis Holds Virtual Audience With Americans in ABC News Event Ahead of US Visit

PHOTO: Pope Francis virtual audience was moderated from inside the Vatican by ABC News World News Tonight anchor David Muir.PlayABC News
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Pope Francis participated in a virtual audience today with Americans from around the country during an event hosted exclusively with ABC News.

The event was moderated from inside the Vatican by ABC News’ "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir, as the pontiff engaged via satellite with individuals from three different groups: students at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago’s inner city, congregants from a McAllen, Texas, church located near the U.S.-Mexico border and homeless men and women and those working with the homeless in Los Angeles.

The event will air in a one-hour special edition of ABC News’ "20/20" on Friday, Sept. 4 at 10 p.m. ET. In addition, the event will be posted in its entirety in both English and Spanish on ABCNews.com.

The event coincides with the pope’s upcoming visit to the United States, scheduled for later this month, when Francis is expected to travel to Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia from Sept. 22 to Sept. 27.

The pope’s U.S. trip includes a meeting with President Obama at the White House, an address in front of a joint-meeting of Congress, an address at the U.N. General Assembly in New York and a "multi-religious service" at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

His trip will conclude in Philadelphia at the World Meeting of Families, a global event organized by the Catholic Church that focuses on strengthening family bonds. Event organizers expect up to two million people to attend the pope’s closing mass.

PHOTO: Pope Francis held a virtual audience with Americans in an ABC News event ahead of his
visit to the U.S.ABC News
Pope Francis held a virtual audience with Americans in an ABC News event ahead of his visit to the U.S.

Only three other reigning popes have ever visited the United States: Paul VI in 1965, John Paul II, who traveled to the country seven different times, and Pope Benedict XVI, who visited in April 2008.

Born in Argentina, Francis, 78, is the first Latin American and first Jesuit to lead the Roman Catholic Church. He succeeded Benedict in 2013, and since then the pontiff has won wide acclaim for his modern views on religion, his hands-on work with the less-fortunate and his acceptance of the LGBT community.