Pope Francis held a large open-air Mass in Philadelphia, ending his six-day visit to the US.
The pontiff appealed for unity and family love, as thousands of people gathered at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Earlier, the Pope prayed with a group of victims of child abuse, saying “God weeps” for their suffering.
Clergy and bishops abusing children would be held accountable, he said. The Roman Catholic Church in the US has been embroiled in child abuse scandals.
US dioceses have made huge compensation payouts to victims.
However, many abuse survivors are angry at how the Vatican has dealt with allegations.
During Sunday’s homily in Spanish, Pope Francis, 78, called the crowd to be open to “miracles of love for the sake of all the families of the world”.
“The urgent challenge of protecting our home includes the effort to bring the entire human family together in the pursuit of a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.”
Finishing Mass, Pope Francis said: “I ask you to pray for me. Don’t forget.”
In a speech in front of the world’s leaders at the United Nations in New York, Pope Francis has urged them to respect humanity’s “right to the environment”.
The pontiff also called on financial agencies not to subject countries to “oppressive lending systems” that worsen poverty.
In an allusion to the Church’s teachings on s**ual minorities, Pope Francis called for respect for the “natural difference between man and woman”.
Pope Francis went on to visit the 9/11 memorial for a multi-faith service.
He said the universe was “the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator” and that humanity “is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it.”
The Pope also said he hoped a forthcoming summit on climate change in Paris would produce a “fundamental and effective agreement”.
In a wide-ranging speech, Pope Francis addressed topics including girls’ education drug trafficking, and welcomed the deal between Iran and world powers on its nuclear deal, calling it “proof of the potential of political goodwill”.
Earlier, he addressed UN staff after being greeted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, telling them their roles were very important.
“Thank you for all you do… I bless each one of you from my heart. I will pray for you and your families,” the Pope said.
“I ask each of you to remember to pray for me. If anyone is not a believer, I ask you to wish me well.”
Later on Friday Pope Francis will visit a school in the heavily Hispanic neighborhood of East Harlem.
About 80,000 are expected to watch the procession as Pope Francis makes his way to Mass at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.
Nearly 20,000 are set to attend the service at the major sporting and concert arena.
Thousands lined Fifth Avenue on September 24 as Pope Francis made his way to St Patrick’s Cathedral for evening prayers.
The Pope arrived in New York from Washington, where he delivered the first-ever papal address to the US Congress.
In the speech, he urged a humane response to refugees, an end to the death penalty and better treatment of the poor and disadvantaged.
Next Pope Francis will go to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he will speak in front of Independence Hall and have Mass at a Catholic families’ rally.
Pope Francis has made a historic address to US Congress, where he received a warm welcome from more than 500 lawmakers, justices and officials.
He has become the first pope to address a joint meeting of the US Congress.
The Pope was greeted at the Capitol by Speaker of the House John Boehner, who is Catholic, and then entered the chamber to thunderous applause.
The pontiff began his speech by warning of the dangers of “ideological extremism”.
He emphasized the importance of welcoming immigrants.
Pope Francis said the world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since World War Two, and noted that thousands travel north into the US for a better life every year.
“We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation,” he said.
Pope Francis also related the work of lawmakers to that of Moses, saying they had a responsibility to promote unity through “just legislation”.
The pontiff said the world must be attentive to “fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind” but also touched on economic inequality saying “even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structure and actions are all too apparent”.
During his speech, Pope Francis renewed calls for “the global abolition of the death penalty” saying criminals should be rehabilitated.
He also reaffirmed his “esteem and appreciation” to the indigenous people of the Americas who faced “turbulent and violent” contacts with colonizing powers.
Noting that most Congress members were the descendents of migrants, Pope Francis urged them to “treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated”.
After finishing with the words “God bless America”, Pope Francis received a prolonged standing ovation.
Thousands of people have gathered on the West Lawn of the Capitol hoping to see the Pope.
Sitting behind the Pope was Vice President Joe Biden and John Boehner, the first and second in line to the presidency, who are both Roman Catholics.
John Boehner, a Republican, is a former altar boy who invited the Pope to speak after failing to persuade his two predecessors to do likewise. He has ruled out fears that Pope Francis – who has a reputation for being politically engaged – will stir up controversy.
“The Pope transcends all of this,” John Boehner wrote in an online essay.
“He appeals to our better angels and brings us back to our daily obligations. The best thing we can all do is listen, open our hearts to his message and reflect on his example.”
Later on the day, Pope Francis is due to share a meal with homeless people.
On the first day of his visit to the US, Pope Francis has called for further action on climate change saying that it was “a critical moment of history”.
Speaking to a crowd of more than 11,000 people on the White House South Lawn, Pope Francis said the problem could “no longer be left to a future generation”.
President Barack Obama said Pope Francis reminded people “that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet”.
The pontiff will later conduct the first canonization on US soil.
Following the speech, the two leaders met behind closed doors in the Oval Office.
Speaking in English – one of the few times the Argentine pontiff is expected to do so during the week’s many events – Pope Francis praised President Barack Obama for recent proposals aimed at tackling air pollution.
Photo Getty Imagez
Time remains to make the changes required, Pope Francis said, in a speech that also called for protecting religious liberty and stamping out discrimination.
The environmental issue is a divisive one in US politics, with one Republican congressman boycotting Pope Francis’ speech to Congress on September 24 because of the pontiff’s stance.
All the leading Republican presidential candidates oppose action to tackle climate change because they say it will hurt the economy.
The morning began with the pontiff emerging from the Apostolic Nunciature – the Holy See’s equivalent of an embassy – around 09:00 local time.
Clad in his traditional white cassock, Pope Francis spent several minutes greeting well-wishers who had assembled behind temporary fencing in front of the diplomatic complex.
After shaking hands and giving hugs and kisses to the largely young crowd, the pope boarded a modest hatchback trailed by a convoy of large security vehicles and made the 15-minute drive through Washington on streets that had been cleared of traffic for the occasion.
At the White House large crowds gathered on the South Lawn to greet Pope Francis. Officials said over 11,000 tickets had been issued, but noted that the crowd was even larger.
A cadre of Obama administration officials and a military color guard flanked a stage set up outside the South Portico – among the most rare and respectful diplomatic ceremonies that the US government can offer visiting dignitaries.
Following a military color guard and the playing of the Holy See and US national anthems, President Barack Obama welcomed Pope Francis with brief remarks.
The canonization on September 23 will be part of a Spanish-language Mass to be held at the largest Roman Catholic church in North America, and will elevate to sainthood the Spanish missionary who brought Christianity to what is now the US west coast.
At the afternoon Mass, Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan who founded a mission in California in the 18th Century, will become the first Hispanic saint in the US.
But the decision to canonize the missionary has been criticized by some Native Americans, who view him as someone who aggressively imposed Catholicism on their ancestors.
Pope Francis has in the past apologized for the treatment of indigenous people.
Pope Francis celebrated the final Mass of his four-day visit to Cuba, calling on Cubans to live a “revolution of tenderness”.
The Mass was celebrated at Cuba’s holiest shrine, the sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre.
Pope Francis then left for the United States, where he will address both houses of Congress.
The Pope has avoided any overt political statements during his visit to Cuba.
Commentators say the pontiff is expected to be more outspoken while in the US.
In Washington DC he will hold the first-ever canonization mass on US soil and then give the first address to Congress by a pope.
Pope Francis will then head to New York City for the 70th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly.
The final leg of Pope Francis’ US tour is Philadelphia where the pontiff will preside over the Vatican’s World Meeting of Families.
It is being billed as one of the largest events in Philadelphia in modern times and could attract up to a million and half people.
During his time in Cuba, Pope Francis asked Cubans to follow the example set by the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre “to build bridges, to break down walls, to sow seeds of reconciliation”.
The Virgin symbolizes Cuba’s mixed Spanish and African roots.
Alluding to Cuba’s 1959 Communist revolution which brought Fidel Castro to power, Pope Francis said: “Our revolution comes about through tenderness, through the joy which always becomes closeness and compassion, which isn’t pain, and leads us to get involved in, and to serve, the life of others.”
During the trip, there have been complaints from some Cuban dissidents that Pope Francis did not receive them to hear their concerns about human rights on the island.
The Vatican said such a meeting was never on the agenda.
In his first speech after his arrival in Cuba, Pope Francis has called for the Church in the communist island to have “the freedom and the means” to pursue its mission.
Pope Francis also hailed improving ties between the US and Cuba as “an example of reconciliation for the whole world”.
The pontiff was greeted by Cuban President Raul Castro after landing in the capital, Havana.
He is due to celebrate Mass on September 20 in Havana’s iconic Revolution Square.
Photo Getty Images
Pope Francis will spend four days in Cuba before flying to the US.
Following his arrival on Cuba on September 19, thousands lined the route of the Pope’s motorcade to the home of the Vatican’s ambassador to Cuba.
Pope Francis – the first pontiff to hail from Latin America – is credited with helping the recent thaw in diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US.
President Raul Castro has thanked Pope Francis for his contribution.
Speaking at the airport alongside Raul Castro, Pope Francis urged further support for Cuba’s Catholics “so that the Church can continue to support and encourage the Cuban people in its hopes and concerns, with the freedom, the means and the space needed to bring the proclamation of the kingdom to the existential peripheries of society”.
The Pope also called on Cuba and the US to “persevere on the path” of detente.
On September 17, the Vatican said it hoped the Pope’s visit would help bring an end to the 53-year-old US embargo and lead to more freedom and human rights in Cuba.
The following day, the US announced eased restrictions on business and travel with Cuba, the latest move by President Barack Obama to improve relations.
Pope Francis’s trip will later take him to the US, which he will also be visiting for the first time since his election to the papacy.
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