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Pope Francis visit: 5 highlights from Thursday

Pope Francis arrives at St. Patrick's Cathedral in

Pope Francis arrives at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A first-of-its-kind address to Congress.

A meal with some of Washington's homeless.

Remarks in English and Spanish -- and connections with thousands of people, from the nation's capital to New York City.

If anything, Pope Francis' U.S. trip became even more intense Thursday -- not least on Fifth Avenue, where throngs of admiring fans and worshippers turned out to watch his motorcade approach St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Here are five things to know about the pope's Thursday. App users can see the related stories by tapping on the first link above.

1) Thursday morning the 266th pontiff became the first pope to address a joint session of Congress, in a speech that prodded elected leaders and Americans more broadly to move beyond polarization and work toward "the greatest common good."

In slow but steady English, he drew attention to "a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War," returned to his themes of immigrants and the environment, and "focused on the poor and marginalized in society," Newsday's Tom Brune and William Murphy report. "He only alluded to what most Republicans hoped to hear: his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage."

He also evoked Martin Luther King Jr. for a second day in a row, while declaring, "I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of dreams."

2) Newsday's Editorial Board says Francis had them at the first "God bless America."

When he said the phrase Wednesday at the White House, he made it "a heartfelt compliment," not rote political boilerplate, a Newsday editorial says. When he said it Thursday in Congress, "it was a short prayer for a great nation that needs to repair its badly damaged political discourse."

3) After leaving the pomp and power of the U.S. Capitol, Pope Francis immediately went to spend time with some of the least powerful, the homeless, Newsday's Bart Jones reports.

He writes that the homeless people gathered at St. Patrick's Catholic Church almost could not believe that a pope was coming to see them -- and ask them to pray for him. Francis denounced homelessness -- and pointed out that Jesus "came into this world as a homeless person."

4) On a lighter note, the pope had a varied day of transportation. He flew aboard "Shepherd One" from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to Kennedy Airport in Queens -- this time on an American Airlines plane instead of an Alitalia one.

A Marine helicopter took him to Manhattan, and he arrived in midtown in a Fiat -- before getting in the popemobile for the last part of his ride to St. Patrick's Cathedral. The crowd screamed and jumped up and down to see him on Fifth Avenue, with many chanting his name, Newsday reports.

It happened so fast, said Camilo Trujillo of Fort Lee, New Jersey, that it was "a once-in-a-lifetime experience that happened in seven seconds."

5) The evening prayers service reflected the wide scope of the day, and of the man who is the global leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Francis offered a prayer for the more than 700 Muslims who were killed in a stampede during a pilgrimage to Mecca at the start of the day, saying, "I unite myself with you all."

He "touched on the clergy sex abuse scandal as a point of shame for the church, as he has at other events in the United States," Newsday's Bart Jones, Emily C. Dooley and Candice Ruud report.

And he praised the strength of religious women, asking in Spanish, "What would the church be without you?"

On deck for Friday: Another big speech -- this time at the United Nations.

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