Pope Francis’ motorcade passed the Human Rights Campaign building in Northwest D.C. on Wednesday as the pontiff made his way to the nearby Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
Members of Dignity Washington were among the hundreds of people who had gathered outside the building at the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and 17th Street, N.W., in hopes they would have a chance to see the pope.
Dignity Washington members were holding a banner that read “Pope Francis: The spirit is speaking through us” with a reference to LGBT Catholics. Others wore blue t-shirts that asked the pontiff whether he would “welcome us home.”
A large banner urging the Vatican to welcome LGBT Catholics back into the church was hanging from the side of the HRC building.
“We’re welcoming the pope,” Larry Ranly of Dignity Washington told the Washington Blade before Francis arrived at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. “I would ask the pope to welcome us.”
Dan Anderson of D.C. and his fiancé, Jim Rinefierd, walked to HRC after attending the White House ceremony during which President Obama officially welcomed Francis to the U.S.
“The energy was pretty amazing,” Anderson told the Blade. “Everybody was just so pleased to be there knowing what was coming.”
Anderson added Francis is “changing the world as pope instead of just living in the old dogma.”
A handful of members of the Westboro Baptist Church gathered on the corner of Connecticut Avenue and M Street, N.W., near St. Matthew’s Cathedral on Wednesday to protest Francis. They appeared to have left the area by the time the pontiff and his motorcade arrived.
Francis is scheduled to pray with U.S. bishops before celebrating Mass at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast Washington. The pontiff on Thursday will speak to members of Congress and visit St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and Catholic Charities of the Archbishop of Washington before traveling to New York.