— -- Pope Francis offered one final message to all Americans during a virtual audience hosted with ABC News before his historic trip to the United States.
“I’m filled with hope to meet you all,” the Holy Father said Monday. “I pray for you all, for all of the people of the United States, and I ask you please to pray for me.”
During the event, which was moderated from inside the Vatican by ABC News’ "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir, Pope Francis engaged via satellite with individuals from three different groups: students at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago’s inner city, congregants from Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, located near the U.S.-Mexico border, and homeless men and women and those working with the homeless in Los Angeles.
The three locations were selected by ABC News because they are in parts of the country that Pope Francis will not be visiting during his historic trip to the United States, later this month.
The Pontiff answered several questions from the audience, including why his upcoming trip to the U.S. was important to him.
“For me it's very important to meet with you all, with the citizens of the United States,” Francis said. “For me it's difficult not to be close to people. When I approach people ... it's easier for me to understand them and help them along life's path. That's why this trip is so important.”
The pope is expected to travel to Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia from Sept. 22 to Sept. 27. The 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.
The 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, where organizers expect two million people will attend Pope Francis’ closing mass.