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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.Pope Francis Philadelphia Mass

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.”

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

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.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

“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.


Pope Francis has been welcomed by President Barack Obama as he landed in the US on September 22 – a rare honor for a foreign dignitary.

The pontiff has begun his trip to the US, where he is expected to greet millions of American Catholics and address thorny issues like climate change and income inequality.

Pope Francis will visit Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia.

Before he departed Cuba, the pontiff called on its people to live a “revolution of tenderness”.

Photo AP

Photo AP

In the final Mass of his four-day visit to the island, with President Raul Castro attending, he urged thousands of Cubans to serve one another and not an ideology.

On the trip from Cuba to the US, the Pope held a news conference and answered those who said his criticisms of capitalism went too far.

“I’ve never said anything that is not in the social doctrine of the church,” the Pope told reporters.

“Maybe I have given the impression of (being) a bit lefty, but that would be a mistaken interpretation.”

When he landed at Andrews Air Force Base, Pope Francis was greeted by Barack Obama and his family along with Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife.

The crowd, which included a military honor guard, schoolchildren, politicians, and Roman Catholic clergymen, chanted: “Welcome to the USA! Hello! Hey!”

After a brief chat with President Barack Obama, the pope rode away in a small charcoal-gray Fiat as part of a motorcade bound for the Vatican diplomatic mission in Washington.

Authorities have launched one of the biggest security operations in US history to ensure the pope’s safety.

The pontiff, who has sought to bring Catholics back to the church with a more inclusive message, is very popular in the US and is expected to draw massive crowds in all three cities.

A large portion of central Philadelphia will be practically closed off during his visit and federal employees in Washington have been urged to work remotely while Pope Francis is in the capital.

The event could attract up to a million and a half people.