From the moment he stepped onto the tarmac at Dublin Airport, he had television news crews by his side.
But the defining moment of the first papal visit to Ireland in nearly 40 years did not take place on camera.
The Supreme Pontiff met privately for 90 minutes with eight survivors of abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church.
He received a letter from them explaining how 100,000 single mothers had been “forcibly separated from their babies”.
The women, many of them detained in Ireland’s notorious Magdalene Laundries, were told it was a “mortal sin” to contact their children.
They urged Pope Francis to reassure “elderly and dying” natural mothers and adoptees that there was no sin in the reunion.
The Holy Father reportedly agreed to do so when he leads up to half a million people in mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on Sunday.
The Vatican provided little detail, simply confirming that he had met with survivors of “clerical, religious and institutional abuse”.
But those in attendance revealed the Pope had condemned the corruption and cover-up of abuse in the least theological of terms.
He described abuse within the Church as “caca”, literally translated “filth as one sees in the toilet”, as his translator politely clarified.
No one had expected the Pope to use a swear word of sorts but at the end of the day, it was just another word among many.
Earlier, the Irish prime minister and taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, had boldly asked him to ensure that “from words, flow actions”.
The Irish president, Michael D Higgins, had made a similar case when he and his wife had met with the Pope at his official residence.
His spokesman said: “He spoke of the anger which had been conveyed to him by survivors of abuse by the clergy and others.”
Mr Higgins referred to “what was perceived to be the impunity enjoyed by those who had the responsibility of brining such abuses for action by the appropriate authorities and have not done so”.
So the president of Ireland, the prime minister of Ireland, and the survivors of abuse in Ireland were hoping for more than tough talk.
The demand for action has grown to such a deafening crescendo that words are not enough, even if they are swear words.