Pope Francis capturing the attention of Catholics and non-Catholics

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Pope Francis is changing the way many of us think about religion.

During his U.S. visit, the Pope has called on Americans to embrace undocumented immigrants, address climate change, and take on poverty, messages that resonate, regardless of religion.

Anne Kelundberg of New Mexico told 22News you don’t have to be Catholic to believe in his message. “I’m not Catholic, but I think he’s an amazing spokesperson and humanitarian. He’s opening up questions that a lot of people have, just about poverty, human rights,” she said.

Opening up questions about social issues, and about religion, the Pope’s visit comes at a time when the Catholic religion is dealing with a decline across the U.S. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who considered themselves religiously unaffiliated jumped more than 6 points between 2007 and 2014.

Sema Carmichael of Conway said the Pope’s message could encourage people to return to their religious roots. “I think he’s people, people. I think he really cares about people, you know, he’s very humble,” she said.

Easthampton resident Karen Lavallee-Tente told 22News she’s Catholic, but at  times, disagrees with the church on certain issues. She said Pope Francis represents what the religion could look like in the future. “I like the fact that he seems to be a little more progressive, seems to be for women, for climate, it’s kind of refreshing,” she said.

Millions of people traveled thousands of miles this week just to hear and see the Pope in person.

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