Providence College Professor Paul Gondreau says he was “moved to tears” as he watched his disabled son hugging the newly inaugurated Pope Francis. The encounter, following an Easter Mass, was recorded by photographers and later picked up by CNN and other news outlets.
Gondreau explains in a guest post on the blog Catholic Moral Theology that the tender moment quickly went viral because, he believes, it struck a cord by showing disabled people as more than weak individuals needing help from others.
"A woman in the Square, moved to tears by the embrace, perhaps answered it best when she to my wife afterward, ‘You know, your son is here to show people how to love,'" Gondreau writes.
Gondreau, a theology professor, is in Rome teaching at a Providence College study abroad program. His wife and five children accompanied him on the trip, including 8-year-old Dominic, who has cerebral palsy.
Providence College has posted Gondreau's full account of the family's moving encounter with Pope Francis.