Pope message transcends church: Notre Dame prez

Pope appeals to best in America: Rev. John Jenkins

The message of Pope Francis, in his historic visit to the U.S., is one that all Americans can embrace, the Rev. John Jenkins, president of University of Notre Dame, said Friday, as the pontiff prepared to address the United Nations.

Jenkins told CNBC's "Squawk Box" he's on board with the pope's stance on climate change. "We've been working on sustainability for years. But really the pope's call in his most recent encyclical has led us to think about what more can we can do," Jenkins said.

In his June encyclical on climate change, the pope called for urgent action to save the planet from environmental ruin.

Read More Pope to Congress: Time to act on climate change

For its part, Notre Dame has said it plans to cease burning coal entirely within five years and cut its carbon footprint by more than half by 2030.

In a landmark address to a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday, the pope called for "courageous actions" on climate change, poverty and the European refugee crisis.

"He appealed to the best in America, the best in ourselves for liberty, for freedom, for care for those in need," said Jenkins, just back in South Bend, Indiana, after participating in events surrounding in the pope's visit to Washington.

The pope's message "transcends the Catholic Church," he said. "He calls us in his simple, in his sincere way to live a better life."