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IN PHOTOS: POPE FRANCIS MAKES HISTORIC FIRST U.S. VISIT


SEPTEMBER 23 -JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop) Pope Francis (L) is escorted by U.S. President Barack Obama as he greets and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. Chip Somodevilla /Getty Images/AFP Pope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday for his first visit — a historic six-day trip to the spiritual home of capitalism after his tour of communist-ruled Cuba. The 78-year-old Argentine pontiff stepped onto US soil for the first time at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, where he was greeted by US President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle and their two daughters. US Catholic leaders and a select crowd of several hundred well-wishers were on hand to greet the pope, who wore his traditional papal whites and waved to the crowd, who chanted: “Ho ho, hey hey, welcome to the USA.” A small group of children from Catholic schools in the Washington area were brought forward to welcome the pontiff. READ MORE...

ALSO: Pope Francis gets political in Washington debut


SEPTEMBER 23 -The Pope greets schoolchildren at Apostolic Nunciature, Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington. September 23, 2015 Washington (CNN) Pope Francis immediately dove into the whirlpool of U.S. politics on Wednesday, using his first direct address to the nation to weigh in on deeply divisive issues including climate change, Cuba, and traditional marriage as he was greeted by exuberant crowds packing the streets of Washington. The guest list for Wednesday’s welcome event for Pope Francis created a political headache for the White House. In recent days, conservatives lambasted President Obama for inviting an openly gay former Episcopal bishop, a nun who leads a social justice group that has been critical of Republicans and a transgender activists who have pushed the Catholic church to be more inclusive. The White House has responded by arguing that the invited guests were only a handful of the estimated 15,000 who will be on hand to welcome Pope Francis. The Vatican spokesman commented: "White House is 'smarter' than playing politics with reception guest list". The pontiff lived up to his reputation for blunt talk at a welcoming ceremony at the White House, introducing himself as the son of the kind of "immigrant family" on which America was built -- a clear reference to the controversy swirling around millions of undocumented people in the country. And in comments that could antagonize Republicans, Francis endorsed President Barack Obama's efforts on climate change and rebuilding ties with Cuba after more than half a century of estrangement. Pope Francis and President Barack Obama spoke at the White House, Wednesday, which began with pomp and politics and ended with a controversial canonization, was the Pope's first full day in the United States. READ MORE...

ALSO: Pope Francis electrifies Congress with speech laying out bold vision for US[Whether the pope will have any lasting impact on the US political agenda is unclear but his spell lingered after he left Congress, uniting both sides of the aisle in praise for the visitor. It was not a ceasefire in the culture wars but the so-called “Francis effect”, at least for one day, lured both sides out of the trenches.]


SEPTEMBER 24 -Standing before members of the Senate, House, Supreme Court and cabinet, and under an engraving reading “In God We Trust”, Pope Francis seemed almost overwhelmed at first by the reception he received. It is perhaps a testament to the goodwill for Pope Francis that his remarks were met with no apparent hostility, and he received several standing ovations.TELEGRAPH, UK
Republicans and Democrats united in praise for pope, who called on Congress to transcend division and act on climate change, immigration and poverty Pope Francis urged Congress to ‘avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity’ – a reference to climate change. Pope Francis has electrified Congress with a call for action on climate change, immigration, poverty and capital punishment, laying down a challenge for the United States to transcend division and rediscover its ideals. READ MORE...

ALSO: Pope addresses 20,000 at Madison Square Garden/United Nations/Central Park
[The Mass, officially celebrated "for the preservation of peace and justice," followed a whirlwind first full day for the pope in New York City, making him the fourth pope to visit the U.S.]


SEPTEMBER 25 -The Combined Choirs of St. Charles Borromeo sing gospel songs prior to a mass led by Pope Francis at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 25, 2015 in New York City. (Photo: Andrew Burton, AFP/Getty Images) NEW YORK — For one night only: Pope Francis headlined Madison Square Garden. And he awed an estimated crowd of 20,000-plus that packed the Manhattan sports and entertainment arena, celebrating a Mass in which he used a homily in his native Spanish to celebrate religious faith in New York City and other urban areas. "God lives in our cities. The church lives in our cities," said Francis, prompting one of three rounds of applause from congregants during the liturgy. "The city that works and walks in smog has seen a great light," he added, prompting smiles and laughter at his re-working of Isaiah's biblical prophesy of Jesus' birth. Repeating his often invoked concern for the poor, for refugees and for immigrants, Francis also reminded the crowd to help those who lack access to the riches found in urban centers. "In big cities, beneath the roar of traffic, beneath 'the rapid pace of change', so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no 'right' to be there, no right to be part of the city. They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly," said the pope. "These people stand at the edges of our great avenues, in our streets, in deafening anonymity. They become part of an urban landscape which is more and more taken for granted, in our eyes, and especially in our hearts." READ MORE...

ALSO At Ground Zero: Destruction is always personal, Pope Francis reflects at Ground Zero


SEPTEMBER 25 -Pope Francis participates in an interreligious prayer service at Ground Zero, Credit: Addie Mena /CNA
After his Friday meeting with loved ones of fallen first responders to the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, the Holy Father said he was reminded that violence can never be impersonal. “In those family members, we see the face of pain, a pain which still touches us and cries out to heaven,” he said during an interreligious prayer event at Ground Zero Sept. 25. He reflected that “acts of destruction are never impersonal, abstract or merely material.” Rather, “(t)hey always have a face, a concrete story, names.” Even in the face of so much suffering, these same family members showed him “the power of love and remembrance.” “The name of so many loved ones are written around the towers' footprints. We can see them, we can touch them, and we can never forget them.” At Ground Zero, the Roman Pontiff said there was also a “palpable sense of the heroic goodness” “Hands reached out, lives were given. In a metropolis which might seem impersonal, faceless, lonely, you demonstrated the powerful solidarity born of mutual support, love and self-sacrifice,” he said. “No one thought about race, nationality, neighborhoods, religion or politics. It as all about solidarity, meeting immediate needs, brotherhood.” “New York City firefighters walked into the crumbling towers, with no concern for their own wellbeing. Many succumbed; their sacrifice enabled great numbers to be saved.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Thousands queue for Pope Francis ahead of World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia


SEPTEMBER 27 -People gather along Benjamin Franklin Parkway as the pope visits Philadelphia. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images
Francis will give mass for conclusion of World Meeting of Families Pope emphasizes importance of “rehabilitation” at Philadelphia prison ‘God weeps’: Pope Francis meets with victims of clerical sexual abuse, but words ring hollow for some survivors.
Saturday: Pope ditches speech for improvised address on family. Is Pope Francis’s utopia attainable? Guardian opinion contributor Anthea Butler has a great post on Comment is Free about the freewheelin’ pope’s appearance yesterday at the World Meeting of Families: The real question, next, is this: how long will the feel-good focus on families and their struggles actually last after the pope packs up and leaves for Rome? In a world where families are drowning on beaches to escape war, leaving the church because of sexual abuse, or denied access because of sexual orientation, the utopia that Pope Francis desires may be impossible for the church to attain. You can read the rest here: Pope Francis didn't say 'abortion' – and that's what conservative Catholics need to hear Anthea Butler After years of hyperbolic language on abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage, this pontiff is taking his church from the culture wars into the streets Right now, Francis is making an unscheduled stop at St Joseph’s University in Philly. It’s a Jesuit university and the pope is a Jesuit; Francis often stops to meet and greet his brothers in the order. READ MORE...RELATED, Pope Francis Kicks Off His Final Day in U.S. With Prison Visit, Philadelphia Mass...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

IN PHOTOS: Pope Francis makes historic first US visit


JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop) Pope Francis (L) is escorted by U.S. President Barack Obama as he greets and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. Chip Somodevilla /Getty Images/AFP

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 28, 2015 (MANILA BULLETIN) by AFP September 23, 2015 (updated) Pope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday for his first visit — a historic six-day trip to the spiritual home of capitalism after his tour of communist-ruled Cuba.

The 78-year-old Argentine pontiff stepped onto US soil for the first time at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, where he was greeted by US President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle and their two daughters.

US Catholic leaders and a select crowd of several hundred well-wishers were on hand to greet the pope, who wore his traditional papal whites and waved to the crowd, who chanted: “Ho ho, hey hey, welcome to the USA.”

A small group of children from Catholic schools in the Washington area were brought forward to welcome the pontiff.

READ MORE...


Pope Francis disembarks from his airplane upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB

Obama will host the Jesuit pope at the White House on Wednesday.

“When the president sits down with Pope Francis tomorrow in the Oval Office, the president will not arrive at that meeting with a political agenda,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

“This is an opportunity for two men who have so many values in common to talk about the efforts that they are making in their respective and quite different roles to advance those shared values.”

Francis will make two key speeches during his visit, addressing Congress on Thursday and the United Nations on Friday.


US First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes Pope Francis to the United States upon his arrival at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington September 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / TONY GENTILE

Tight security

On the plane from Cuba to the United States, the pope told reporters that he would not specifically raise Washington’s embargo on Havana in his speech before American lawmakers, but expressed his opposition to it.

“The Holy See is against this embargo, but it is against all embargos,” he said.

Other topics in his addresses will include critiques of the dominance of finance and technology; a condemnation of world powers over the conflicts gripping the planet; appeals to protect and welcome immigrants; and climate change, according to Vatican sources.

On Tuesday, he travelled to the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Washington, where he will be staying, in a Fiat 500, eschewing larger, more polluting vehicles.

The visit will take place under tight security, with US authorities on top alert to handle the complexities of protecting a pope who insists on traveling in an open vehicle to be closer to the masses.

Authorities are facing a particular security headache in New York, where Francis plans to criss-cross Manhattan at a time when 170 world leaders will be in town for the UN General Assembly.

He will preside over an inter-faith ceremony at Ground Zero, visit a Harlem Catholic school and greet crowds on a procession through Central Park.

He will wrap up his trip Saturday and Sunday in Philadelphia at an international festival of Catholic families.


Pope Francis walks alongside US President Barack Obama upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB

Anti-American pope?

The pope arrives in the United States after four days in Cuba, where he said three masses before adoring crowds and met President Raul Castro and his brother Fidel, the men who have ruled the island since its 1959 revolution.

The pontiff, the first from Latin America, played a key role in brokering the recent rapprochement between Washington and Havana, which resulted in the restoration of diplomatic ties in July after more than half a century.

In the United States he will find an American public that widely respects him, but has a less favorable view of the Catholic Church.

While 81 percent of Catholics have a positive view of the Church, only 55 percent of Americans as a whole do, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News earlier this month.


Pope Francis makes his way to his motorcade following his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on September 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN

And for some critics the dominant themes of his papacy — his critique of consumerism, calls to embrace poverty and condemnation of a “throwaway culture” — sound suspiciously like an indictment of the American way of life.

That was underlined ahead of his trip when Republican Congressman Paul Gosar, who is Catholic, declared he would boycott the pontiff’s historic address to Congress to protest his “leftist” views.

The pope has been active in urging compassion, including for those historically shunned by the Church, and for calling for action against economic inequality and environmental degradation.

Americans in general approve of those efforts, with 54 percent wanting him to “continue as he has been” and another 23 percent urging him to be even more active.


Pope Francis greets children alongside US President Barack Obama upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB

‘Build bridges’

During his Cuba visit, Francis discreetly refrained from chastising the communist regime for its crackdowns on dissidents and curbs on civil liberties.

Before leaving the island on Tuesday, Francis said mass in Cuba’s second city Santiago, cradle of the Castros’ uprising against dictator Fulgencio Batista, calling for a new kind of “revolution.”

Speaking at a basilica to Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Cuba’s patron saint, he urged Cubans to follow her example “to build bridges, break down walls, sow seeds of reconciliation,” in comments that appeared to allude to the nascent reconciliation across the Florida Straits.


CNN

Pope Francis gets political in Washington debut Stephen Collinson ProfileDaniel Burke-Profile-Image1 By Stephen Collinson and Daniel Burke, CNN Updated 7:57 PM ET, Wed September 23, 2015 | Video Source: CNN


In Philadelpia before a conference, September 22, 2015


The Pope greets schoolchildren at Apostolic Nunciature, Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington. September 23, 2015

Washington (CNN)Pope Francis immediately dove into the whirlpool of U.S. politics on Wednesday, using his first direct address to the nation to weigh in on deeply divisive issues including climate change, Cuba, and traditional marriage as he was greeted by exuberant crowds packing the streets of Washington.


WHITE HOUSE GUEST INVITEES ISSUE: Arriving in Washington, DC: The guest list for Wednesday’s welcome event for Pope Francis created a political headache for the White House. In recent days, conservatives lambasted President Obama for inviting an openly gay former Episcopal bishop, a nun who leads a social justice group that has been critical of Republicans and a transgender activists who have pushed the Catholic church to be more inclusive. The White House has responded by arguing that the invited guests were only a handful of the estimated 15,000 who will be on hand to welcome Pope Francis. The Vatican spokesman commented: "White House is 'smarter' than playing politics with reception guest list". THE GUARDIAN, UK

The pontiff lived up to his reputation for blunt talk at a welcoming ceremony at the White House, introducing himself as the son of the kind of "immigrant family" on which America was built -- a clear reference to the controversy swirling around millions of undocumented people in the country.


Moments from the Pope's White House arrival

Speaking in English, the Argentine-born Francis also said he was ready to listen to the "hopes and dreams of the American people" and to offer guidance to those charged with shaping the nation's political future "in fidelity to its founding principles."


WITH AMERICAN FLAG & VATICAN FLAG BEHIND, POPE FRANCIS SPOKE TO GUESTS AT THE LAWN OF THE WHITE HOUSE: Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our "common home", we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about "a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change" (Laudato Si', 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.

And in comments that could antagonize Republicans, Francis endorsed President Barack Obama's efforts on climate change and rebuilding ties with Cuba after more than half a century of estrangement.

Pope Francis and President Barack Obama spoke at the White House.

Wednesday, which began with pomp and politics and ended with a controversial canonization, was the Pope's first full day in the United States.

READ MORE...


First saint canonized on US soil. On Wednesday, Pope Francis officially canonized Father Junipero Serra, thereby making Serra a Catholic saint. Serra founded several Catholic missions to convert Native Americans in 18th-century California, and he's the first saint to be canonized on US soil. The pope actually fast-tracked his confirmation — skipping a couple of traditionally required steps — to make sure he could grant sainthood to Serra during his visit to the States. But a lot of Americans — particularly Native Americans — have been protesting Serra's canonization. After all, many people today think that "civilizing" the Native Americans of California did more to erase their culture than it did to save their souls.  FROM www.vox.com

The 6-day visit will take him later this week to New York, where he will address the United Nations, and Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, a large Catholic event that is expected to draw nearly a million pilgrims to papal Masses.


GARDINER ANDERSON FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Pope Francis arrives by helicopter to the Wall Street Heliport in Manhattan on Thursday.

Read Pope Francis' remarks at the White House


FRANCIS IN NEW YORK CITY: As entrances go, this one was divine. Pope Francis touched down in New York City on Thursday to the strains of “New York, New York” and began his historic 39-hour pilgrimage to the city that never sleeps by taking a drive up Fifth Ave. Inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Francis paused to bless a young girl in a wheelchair and then got a standing ovation when he reached out to a group that has at times felt marginalized — the nuns who serve the church. “To the religious women of the United States,” Francis said in his native Spanish. “What would the church be without you?” Continuing his homily after a round of thunderous applause, the Pope said, “I wish to say thank you . . . and to tell you that I love you very much.” FROM THE NY DAILY NEWS


Francis’ arrival at St. Pat’s was heralded by church bells that began ringing when he was several blocks away. Once Francis was inside, a choir burst into song and the worshipers began applauding, among them director Martin Scorsese, who excitedly recorded the Pope’s entrance on his phone. As Francis made his way to the altar, he stopped to greet and bless people in the pews, paying particular attention to the children. Francis began the prayer service with a greeting to “our Islamic brothers” who are mourning the deaths of more than 700 pilgrims who were killed in a stampede in Mecca. He also tried to buck-up the priests who “suffered greatly” and have had to “bear the shame” of the pedophiles in their ranks. NYDAILY NEWS

IN THE OVAL OFFICE WITH OBAMA: He told the president that it was "encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem that can no longer be left to a future generation

"When it comes to the care of our 'common home' we are living at a critical moment of history," he said.

Francis is using the global platform offered by his first-ever visit to the United States to emphasize the theme at the center of his two-year-old papacy:

challenges like climate change,
income inequality and
the plight of immigrants are moral -- not political -- issues.

And, he said, the richest, most developed countries have an obligation to act.

"I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development," Francis said, in comments that reflect what he sees as a more inclusive vision of capitalism.

While some of these themes were sure to please the left, he also delivered a firm defense of traditional values, warning that the institution of marriage and family needed to be protected at "a critical moment in the history of our civilization."

Those remarks could irk liberals months after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide.

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He said that it was right that society was "tolerant and inclusive" but warned that American Catholics were "concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America's most precious possessions."

Obama gently -- but pointedly -- argued that "here in the United States, we cherish religious liberty."

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama earlier greeted the Pope at the White House as he stepped out of his small black Fiat, which he is using to make a statement of humility in Washington, a city full of limos and hulking government SUVs.

In another nod to Francis' pared down style, the White House dispensed with the 21-gun salute to which he is entitled as the titular head of the Vatican state.

Pope Francis canonizes controversial Spanish missionary Junipero Serra 5 photos: On a glorious early-fall morning, the President and Pope stood together before an honor guard as a band played the national anthems for the Vatican and the U.S.

Obama paid warm tribute to the Pope as an individual as well as the leader of 70 million U.S. Catholics, saying he displayed "unique qualities" of a leader "whose moral authority comes not just through words but also through deeds."

The president warmly welcomed the pontiff's support on climate change and Cuba, despite the White House saying Obama wouldn't use the visit to build domestic political support for these issues.


In New York City: Pope Francis Vespers Service At St. Patrick's Cathedral, PHOTO FILE NEW YORK DAILY

"Holy Father, we are grateful for your invaluable support of our new beginning with the Cuban people, which holds out the promise of better relations between our countries, greater cooperation across our hemisphere, and a better life for the Cuban people," Obama said.


"Holy Father, we are grateful for your invaluable support of our new beginning with the Cuban people, which holds out the promise of better relations between our countries, greater cooperation across our hemisphere, and a better life for the Cuban people,"

The president, who met the Pope for one-on-one talks in the Oval Office, presented his guest with a sculpture of an ascending dove made from metal taken from the Statue of Liberty and wood which once grew in the White House garden.

Francis also took time to minister to the hurting U.S. Catholic Church, meeting bishops at The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington and offering counsel at a time of great upheaval among his American flock which has thinned partly because of child sexual abuse scandals.

"I know how much the wounds of these last few years have weighed on your spirit, and I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims -- in the knowledge that in healing, we too are healed -- and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated," Francis said.


U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama introduce their Portuguese water dogs, Bo and Sunny, to Pope Francis in the Oval Office at the White House Sept. 23 in Washington. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano handout via Reuters)

The Pope's visit brought Washington to a halt. Massive crowds greeted the pontiff as he emerged from the White House complex, standing five or six deep on sidewalks. Several times, his vehicle, a converted white Jeep Wrangler, slowed so the Pope could bless a small child handed to him by a security agent.

In front of and behind the Popemobile, police motor cyclists and black armored Secret Service vehicles fanned out -- evidence of a massive security operation being mounted during the Pope's visit.

He took to the streets again as he headed to a mass to canonize 18th Century Hispanic missionary Junipero Serra who is said to have taken Christianity to California but who is controversial because he is reputed to have treated Native Americans poorly.


FROM HIS POPEMOBILE POPE FRANCIS HUGS, KISSES CHILDREN DURING PARADE IN WASHINGTON, DC. Pope Francis called over several young children during a parade through Washington, D.C., Wednesday, that brought an enormous and excited crowd. Thousands were lined up along the street to watch Pope Francis travel from the White House to Cathedral of St. Matthews the Apostle. Pope Francis was riding in the popemobile -- a Jeep that was outfitted with a clear front protective screen. At several points during the parade, children were carried over from the crowd to the pope, where he either hugged or kissed them. FROM ABC7NY.COM

Some people had been waiting to see the Pope for hours. At St Matthew's, for instance, 58-year-old Dolores Reyes was beaming as she wore a T-shirt that read: "Caminando con el Papá Francisco" -- Walking with Pope Francis.

"He seems different," she said. "He is more humble, more connected with people, with everyone. He is a great Pope. I love his approach."

Earlier, outside the White House, Adriana Cazorla, from Washington state, listened intently as Pope Francis spoke on the big screen and applauded when he said he was a son of immigrants.

"We want the pope to know that 11 million undocumented people are being treated like criminals in this country," Cazorla said before Francis made his remarks.

Francis' next political intervention could come on Thursday when he makes an address to a joint meeting of Congress. He will travel to New York and Philadelphia later in the week to wrap up his six-day visit. CNN's Ray Sanchez and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report


UK, GUARDIAN BRIEF VIDEO

Pope Francis electrifies Congress with speech laying out bold vision for US Rory Carroll in Washington @rorycarroll72 Thursday 24 September 2015 20.43 BST Last modified on Friday 25 September 2015 11.44 BST


AT THE US CONGRESS ABOVE READ ITS ENGRAVED MOTTO "IN GOD WE TRUST": The underlying message of the 50-minute speech was one of compassion. “If we want security, let us give security,” he said. “If we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.” FROM THE TELEGRAPH.UK


Standing before members of the Senate, House, Supreme Court and cabinet, and under an engraving reading “In God We Trust”, Pope Francis seemed almost overwhelmed at first by the reception he received. It is perhaps a testament to the goodwill for Pope Francis that his remarks were met with no apparent hostility, and he received several standing ovations.TELEGRAPH, UK

Republicans and Democrats united in praise for pope, who called on Congress to transcend division and act on climate change, immigration and poverty

Pope Francis urged Congress to ‘avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity’ – a reference to climate change.

Pope Francis has electrified Congress with a call for action on climate change, immigration, poverty and capital punishment, laying down a challenge for the United States to transcend division and rediscover its ideals.

READ MORE...


Pope Francis along with House and Senate leadership after he delivered the address to Congress.“A just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”  It was an implicit rebuke to the US criminal justice system, which is mired in controversy over executions and life sentences without parole. Francis spoke forcefully against the arms trade – “drenched in blood” – but in a concession to capitalism’s capital he lauded business as a “noble vocation”, a kinder description than “dung of the devil”, which he once used to describe unfettered capitalism. Democrats who felt they had just won a powerful ally were brought down to earth with his challenge – albeit indirect – to same-sex marriage. “Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.”   Photograph: ddp USA/Rex Shutterstock, THE GUARDIAN

The pontiff triggered standing ovations – and squirming – in a historic address on Thursday which deftly mixed politics, policy and pageantry, casting an unfamiliar reverence over Washington which wrong-footed conservatives and liberals alike.

Speaking from a rostrum never before occupied by a pope, the Argentinian told a rare joint meeting of Congress to reject xenophobia and embrace immigrants. “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners,” he said.


After entering the chamber to thunderous applause, he said the world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since World War Two, and noted the immense challenges that the crisis presents. But he drew particular attention to the movement of migrants from Central America to the United States in search of a better life - a reference which drew a standing ovation. The Pope speaks at the podium "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. PHOTO FROM BBC, UK, Image copyright is AFP's.

The 50-minute address held the chamber, which was packed with ambassadors and supreme court justices as well as senators and House representatives, spellbound, a feat seldom seen even during presidents’ State of the Union speeches.

John Boehner, the House speaker who invited the pope, wept with emotion. The Catholic congressman had lobbied the Vatican for two decades for such a day.


US Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the speaker of the House, was touched. Sitting behind the pope and next to Vice President Joe Biden, Boehner was crying. Footage showed his eyes glistening and him wiping away tears throughout the speech.

Speaker Boehner was visibly moved in the Pope’s presence. Francis laid out a bold vision of a more compassionate America which could use its might and ingenuity to heal the “open wounds” of a planet ravaged by hatred, pollution and inequality – a dramatic appeal in the context of polarising and raucous presidential nomination campaigns.

“We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the golden rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’” The line drew instant, thunderous applause from Democrats, followed with some hesitation by Republicans, a pattern repeated throughout the address.


Pope Francis being greeted by US Vice President Joe Biden after arriving in the House Chamber before he addressed a joint meeting of the US Congress. In his speech about climate change: "I call for a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps, and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity," Francis said. "I am convinced that we can make a difference, and I have no doubt that the United States — and this Congress — have an important role to play." FROM BUSINESS INSIDER ONLINE

Francis later underlined his message by saluting tens of thousands of people gathered on the west lawn of the Capitol – “the most important ones are here, the children” – and then travelling in his now-famous Fiat to a lunch of steamed carrots, green beans, potato rolls and pasta salad for 250 homeless people in a white tent by St Patrick’s church.

Francis – who once ministered in the slums of Buenos Aires – said there was “no social or moral justification” for homelessness.

“The son of God came into this world as a homeless person,” he told them, speaking Spanish. “The son of God knew what it was to start life without a roof over his head.”

A master of gesture, the pope juxtaposed the tailored suits and marbled grandeur of the Capitol with the scuffed clothes and broken teeth of impoverished Americans just a mile away, exhibiting two parallel worlds at the heart of US power.

Francis, making his first visit to the US, will make similar points in New York, where in addition to addressing the United Nations general assembly on Friday he will visit an East Harlem school, and in Philadelphia, where he will visit a prison on Sunday before returning to Rome.

America’s suspicion of Catholics meant that as recently as 1960 John F Kennedy had to reassure the US that as its first Catholic president he would not take orders from Rome.

Times change

About one-third of the members of Congress are Catholics, and judging by their rapt attention and rapturous responses even those who are of other faiths, or no faith, revere the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

Both sides of the aisle sought Francis’s support for their political positions. His speech, delivered in halting, thickly accented English, tilted progressive but offered something for everyone – though sometimes with a sting.

Pope Francis urges Congress to reject a ‘mindset of hostility’ on immigration.

A critic of capitalism making his first visit to the US at the age of 78, the pope deflected any perception of anti-Americanism declaring the US “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, earning loud applause.

He invoked liberty, justice and compassion through the stories of four Americans – Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, plus two lesser-known people, who instantly spiked on Google: Dorothy Day, a Depression-era activist for the poor, and Thomas Merton, a Catholic mystic and poet.


4 AMERICANS FRANCIS INVOKED: Clockwise from top left: President Abraham Lincoln, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Trappist monk and writer Thomas Merton. PHOTO FROM CRUXNOW.COM

Pope Francis urges Congress to treat immigrants in 'humane and just' way Read more Without mentioning Donald Trump or other immigrant-bashing Republican presidential contenders, the pontiff summoned the spirit of America – North, South, Central – and its common humanity. “I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.”

He spoke of the refugee crisis in Europe and immigrants to the US. “On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children?”

Millions have come to the US to dream of building a future in freedom, he said. “I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.” It brought the house down.

He urged his listeners, who included GOP White House contenders Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, to “avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity” – a reference to climate change. “I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play.”

It was less direct than his speech at the White House on Wednesday, when he praised Barack Obama’s clean air plan, but enough to prompt applause from Democrats and glum looks from some Republicans. Paul Gosar, a Republican congressman from Arizona, had boycotted Congress in protest at the pope’s climate views.


INSIDESCOOP IN HOUSE OF CONGRESS FROM USA TODAY: As Pope Francis left the chamber after addressing Congress yesterday, legislators crowded around him, hoping to get a moment with the leader of the Catholic Church. But one man wasn't among them. That's because Rep. Bob Brady of Philadelphia was too busy swiping the pope's water glass, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. Brady was spotted carefully using two fingers to lift the pope's glass from the podium and carry it back to his office, where he, his wife, and two staffers sipped from it. "How many people do you know that drank out of the same glass as the pope?" Brady asks the Daily News. After letting another congressman and his family dip their fingers in the glass, Brady put the remaining water into a bottle to use to bless his grandchildren later. "The congressman is a Catholic and has immense respect for the Holy Father,” his chief of staff tells ABC News. If the phrase "thou shalt not steal" is running through your head, don't worry: Brady tells the Washington Post he's asked the appropriate House officials for a bill so he can pay for the glass. It will eventually go in a cabinet in his home—next to the water glass used by President Obama at his 2008 inauguration. He swiped that one, too. USA TODAY

Republicans led the applause when he made a reference to abortion, invoking the need to “protect and defend human life at every stage of its development”, only to be flummoxed when he swiftly moved on to condemn the death penalty and excessive jail terms.

“A just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.” It was an implicit rebuke to the US criminal justice system, which is mired in controversy over executions and life sentences without parole.

Francis spoke forcefully against the arms trade – “drenched in blood” – but in a concession to capitalism’s capital he lauded business as a “noble vocation”, a kinder description than “dung of the devil”, which he once used to describe unfettered capitalism.

Democrats who felt they had just won a powerful ally were brought down to earth with his challenge – albeit indirect – to same-sex marriage. “Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.”


“A just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.” It was an implicit rebuke to the US criminal justice system, which is mired in controversy over executions and life sentences without parole.

The speech, originally scheduled for 30 minutes, overran because of pauses for applause – about two dozen thunderous eruptions between hushed concentration on the speaker’s every word – alien behaviour for a polarised, gridlocked Capitol.

Whether the pope will have any lasting impact on the US political agenda is unclear but his spell lingered after he left Congress, uniting both sides of the aisle in praise for the visitor.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Democrat running for president, said the citing of Day, a progressive socialist, “tells you exactly where this man is coming from”. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican also seeking the White House, lauded Francis as “a powerful voice” for religious liberty and “against abortion”.

It was not a ceasefire in the culture wars but the so-called “Francis effect”, at least for one day, lured both sides out of the trenches.

Speaker Boehner overcome by emotion during papal visit - video

The presence of Pope Francis in Washington had a particularly profound effect on John Boehner, the Speaker of the House. Boehner, a devout Catholic, fought back tears during the Pope’s address to Congress, and was visibly moved when he blessed a crowd of thousands who had gathered on the National Mall

Read the full text of Pope Francis' address to US Congress


USA TODAY

Pope addresses 20,000 at Madison Square Garden Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY 10:43 p.m. EDT September 25, 2015 Pope


(Photo: Andrew Burton, Getty Images)

NEW YORK — For one night only: Pope Francis headlined Madison Square Garden.

And he awed an estimated crowd of 20,000-plus that packed the Manhattan sports and entertainment arena, celebrating a Mass in which he used a homily in his native Spanish to celebrate religious faith in New York City and other urban areas.

"God lives in our cities. The church lives in our cities," said Francis, prompting one of three rounds of applause from congregants during the liturgy.

"The city that works and walks in smog has seen a great light," he added, prompting smiles and laughter at his re-working of Isaiah's biblical prophesy of Jesus' birth.

Repeating his often invoked concern for the poor, for refugees and for immigrants, Francis also reminded the crowd to help those who lack access to the riches found in urban centers.


Pope Francis is driven on a golf cart as he arrives at Madison Square Garden. PHOTO FROM CHRISTIANPOST.COM

"In big cities, beneath the roar of traffic, beneath 'the rapid pace of change', so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no 'right' to be there, no right to be part of the city. They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly," said the pope.

"These people stand at the edges of our great avenues, in our streets, in deafening anonymity. They become part of an urban landscape which is more and more taken for granted, in our eyes, and especially in our hearts."

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Many in the arena nodded agreement. And most roared approval near the end of the religious ceremony when Timothy Cardinal Dolan, head of the New York Archdiocese, thanked the pope for using his first U.S. trip to visit his five-borough "family."


Pope Francis raises his chalice as he celebrates Mass at Madison Square Garden

After blessing the worshipers at the conclusion of the Mass, Francis smiled and offered a reminder: "Don't forget to pray for me."

The Mass capped a day in which thousands of anxious visitors waited in lines many city blocks long to pass through security checkpoints and enter the sports and entertainment center dubbed "the world's most famous arena" for the evening Mass.

(Photo: Peter Foley, epa) Bishop William Murphy, religious head of the Rockville Centre Diocese on New York's Long Island, drew cheers when he told the still-sparse crowd before Francis' arrival: "Give yourselves a round of applause, you made it through all those security guys."

The long lines and waiting times didn't dampen enthusiasm, however.

"I just feel so grateful to be here today," said Valerie Sprague, of Greenwich, Conn., taking part in the crowd's pre-Mass recitation of the Rosary, a traditional Catholic collection of prayers, as her husband, Jeff, sought a pope sweatshirt at a concession stand.

"There is such a feeling of love here among people here to honor their pope. This is so beautiful," she said.


The Combined Choirs of St. Charles Borromeo sing gospel The Combined Choirs of St. Charles Borromeo sing gospel songs prior to a mass led by Pope Francis at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 25, 2015 in New York City. (Photo: Andrew Burton, AFP/Getty Images)

Those who managed to get in early were treated to a video about the Catholic Church's sacraments on Madison Square Garden's giant screen.

For those who sought a dash of celebrity with solemnity, musical stars Gloria Estefan, Kelli O'Hara, Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Hudson and other musicians also performed religious-themed songs before Francis arrived.


Harry Connick Jr sings 'How Great Thou Art prior to mass led by Pope Francis at the Madison Square Gardens. FROM CRUXNOW.COM

The Garden, home of the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers, for this night was transformed into a house of religious worship as the pope celebrated a multi-language liturgy watched by millions across the U.S. and around the world.

Robert Niehaus, 60, a private equity executive and longtime church donor and student mentor, was one of nine worshippers chosen to bring the traditional gifts of wine, water and communion wafers to the altar specially built for the Mass by young men from a program that aids court-involved youth. He called the event "one of the high points of my life."

"It's a great honor just to be at a Mass with the pope, and bringing up the gifts is a special honor," said Niehaus.

The Mass, officially celebrated "for the preservation of peace and justice," followed a whirlwind first full day for the pope in New York City, making him the fourth pope to visit the U.S.


Jennifer Hudson sings 'Hallelujah' prior to a Mass to be celebrated by Pope Francis at Madison Square Image Credit: AF

Before arriving at the Garden, Francis addressed the United Nations general assembly, held a multi-faith service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and met with Catholic students at an East Harlem school.


Pope Francis Procession Through Central Park, PHOTO NEW YORK DAILY

Later, he waved to hundreds of thousands of greeters who crowded Central Park for a glimpse of the pontiff riding in the white "popemobile" — a Jeep Wrangler partly outfitted with bullet-proof glass.

New York's Madison Square Garden host to the sacred as well as sports

He spent two days earlier in the week in Washington, D.C., where he elevated Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra to sainthood and delivered the first-ever papal address to a joint session of Congress.

At the Garden, wearing a green vestment called a chasuble, the pope celebrated the Mass with five similarly clad cardinals, some of the high-ranking princes of the church who selected him as head of the Holy See in 2013. Thirty three bishops also concelebrated the Mass.

The crowd sang and prayed along as Spanish and Latin joined English for portions of the mass. Readers also intoned the church's universal prayer in English, Italian, French, Mandarin and Gaelic.


Gloria Estefan singing "Más Allá" (en: Beyond), a song by Gloria Estefan, released as the second single from her second Spanish album Abriendo Puertas. The song has a religious background, and like several other songs on Abriendo Puertas, makes reference to Christmas. In 1995, she sang this song to Pope John Paul II as part of the celebration of his 50th anniversary in the priesthood. This theme is underscored by a church bell ringing throughout the song. This act made Estefan the first pop singer to be invited to sing to the Pope. She was asked several times earlier to perform for Pope John Paul while he was in Cuba in 1998, but she declined the offer because she did not want to sing in a Cuba under Fidel Castro. PHOTO FROM PEOPLE.COM

Fraancis' visit New York visit came amid a dwindling number of priests and other members of religious orders in New York and many areas across the U.S. Continuing a decades-long slide, regular Sunday Mass attendance has fallen in many parishes.

AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Protect the Earth from ‘selfish and boundless thirst’ for money, Pope Francis tells United Nations....


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon applauds the pope. AP Photo / Seth Wenig

READ: HERE IS THE FULL TRANSCRIPT (OF POPE'S SPEECH AT UNITED NAITONS FROM TIME MAGAZINE ONLINE)

In recent years, those trends prompted the closing or merging of dozens of New York-area parish churches and the shuttering of many parochial schools, the largest reorganization in the archdiocese's history. The moves have angered many parishioners. But there were signs of only one emotion inside the arena.

"Te queremos, Papa, te queremos," — we love you, holy father — many in the crowd chanted in Spanish as the pope exited.

After Mass, Francis was scheduled to spend his second night at the diplomatic residence of the papal nuncio, a five-story townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side. He's scheduled to leave New York on Saturday morning and travel to Philadelphia, the final stop of his U.S. visit.

There, the pope will take part in the World Meeting of Families, a gathering started in Rome by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1994 to strengthen the bonds and importance of family members. Held once every three years, the event will include an outdoor papal Mass on Sunday expected to be attended by hundreds of thousands.

POPE FRANCIS BLESSES MADISON SQUARE GARDEN AUDIENCE AT MASS:

 
Pope Francis asks his congregation not to forget to pray for him as he holds mass in New York on Friday. Over 18,000 people attended the service where Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, thanked the pontiff for visiting them. The pope leaves New York for Philadelphia on Saturday morning COURTESY OF THE GUARIAN UK ONLINE.


CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY (CNA ONLINE)

Destruction is always personal, Pope Francis reflects at Ground Zero , Sep 25, 2015 / 10:46 am (CNA/EWTN News).


Pope Francis participates in an interreligious prayer service at Ground Zero, Sept. 25, 2015. Credit: Addie Mena/CNA

New York City, N.Y.- After his Friday meeting with loved ones of fallen first responders to the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, the Holy Father said he was reminded that violence can never be impersonal.

“In those family members, we see the face of pain, a pain which still touches us and cries out to heaven,” he said during an interreligious prayer event at Ground Zero Sept. 25.

He reflected that “acts of destruction are never impersonal, abstract or merely material.” Rather, “(t)hey always have a face, a concrete story, names.”

Even in the face of so much suffering, these same family members showed him “the power of love and remembrance.”


Photo: Pope Francis shakes the hand of a New York Police Department officer while visiting the 9/11 Memorial in New York. (AFP: Jin Lee)

“The name of so many loved ones are written around the towers' footprints. We can see them, we can touch them, and we can never forget them.”

At Ground Zero, the Roman Pontiff said there was also a “palpable sense of the heroic goodness”

“Hands reached out, lives were given. In a metropolis which might seem impersonal, faceless, lonely, you demonstrated the powerful solidarity born of mutual support, love and self-sacrifice,” he said. “No one thought about race, nationality, neighborhoods, religion or politics. It as all about solidarity, meeting immediate needs, brotherhood.”


Photo: Pope Francis pauses in front of a candle to pray with Timothy Cardinal Dolan while visiting the 9/11 Memorial plaza in New York. (AFP: Jin Lee)

“New York City firefighters walked into the crumbling towers, with no concern for their own wellbeing. Many succumbed; their sacrifice enabled great numbers to be saved.”

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In this way, what was at one moment “a place of death” became “a place of saved lives, a hymn to the triumph of life over the prophets of destruction and death, to goodness over evil, to reconciliation and unity over hatred and division.”

Being able to represent Christianity along with other world religions at the site is “a source of great hope,” he said. “I trust that our presence together will be a powerful sign of our shared desire to be a force for reconciliation, peace and justice.”


GRIEF STILL "PALPABLE" -Pope Francis visits the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City and prays at "Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning" by Spencer Finch. Reposed behind this blue wall are the remains of many who perished at the World Trade Center site on Sept. 11, 2001. Pool photo by Susan Watts/UPI | License Photo

“For all our differences and disagreements, we can live in a world of peace. In opposing every attempt to create a rigid uniformity, we can and must build unity on the basis of our diversity of languages, cultures and religions, and lift our voices against everything which would stand in the way of such unity.”

Such peace can come about if we reject “rigid uniformity” and embrace diversity.

“This can only happen if we uproot from our heart all feelings of hatred, vengeance and resentment,” the Holy Father said. “We know that this is only possible as a gift from heaven.”

He led those gathered in a moment of silent prayer, and then continued, saying that if we strive for peace, our deceased loved ones will never be forgotten.

“Instead, they will be present whenever we strive to be prophets not of tearing down but of building up, prophets of reconciliation, prophets of peace,” Pope Francis concluded.


POPE FRANCIS AT GROUND ZERO: GRIEF STILL 'PALPABLE': "This place of death is transformed into a place of life," he said in his native Spanish. "It is possible to live in a world of peace." A Witness to Peace gathering brought together religious leaders from from Buddhist, Protestant, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faiths at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan, one of the sites of the Sept. 11 attacks. The pope opened his statements with his feelings, saying the waterfalls at the reflecting pools are a reminder of the "lives which fell prey to those who think that destruction, tearing down, is the only way to settle conflicts." "I have many different emotions standing here at Ground Zero where thousands of lives were taken in a senseless act of violence and destruction," he said. "You can feel the pain here. It's palpable." He said he feels hope by the many religions represented at the event, "I trust that our presence together will be a powerful sign of our shared desire to be a force for reconciliation, peace and justice in this community and throughout the world." REPORT FROM UPI.COM

Prominent religious leaders from around New York City were also present to mourn and make an appeal for peace.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York welcomed the Holy Father to the event saying, “We in New York are sinners; we have a lot of flaws and make a lot of mistakes.”

“But, one of the things we do well is sincere and fruitful inter-religious friendship! Our ancestors came here for religious freedom, and they found in New York City an atmosphere of respect and appreciation for religious diversity.”


Pope Francis speaks with Iman Khalid Latif, Executive Director of the Islamic Center and chaplain

NYU Muslim chaplain Khalid Latif said, “Intolerance and ignorance fueled those who attacked this place,” adding that “to God all life is sacred and precious. Where others fail, let us be the peaceful reminders of that notion to his creation.”

He and Elliot Cosgrove, rabbi of Park Avenue Synagogue, offered a joint reflection on peace, and prayed for the souls of those who were killed.

“In this place, where horrendous violence was committed falsely in the name of God, we, representatives of the world religions in this great city of New York, gather to offer words of comfort and prayer,” Cosgrove said.


Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove and Imam Khalid Latif shake hands in front of Pope Francis during an interfaith ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial Museum © Tony Gentile / Reuters

By becoming, in the words of St. Francis of Assisi, instruments of peace, we honor those who were killed, he said.

Even as “the worst of humanity” attacked our country that day, “the best of humanity” -- in the form of the first responders -- sought to save life, Latif said.

The Holy Father then offered a “prayer of remembrance” for all those killed that day, along with a prayer for the survivors and those who are mourning the loss of their loved ones.


At Ground Zero, Francis asks 9/11 families to be instruments of peace. The Pope  joins representatives of religious communities for meditations on peace in Foundation Hall at the ground zero 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York Sept. 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

He asked God to “bring peace to our violent world,” especially to those “whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred and who justify killing in the name of religion.”

“Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope,” Pope Francis prayed, “and give us the wisdom and courage where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all.”

After that, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian, and Muslim reflections on peace were offered, followed by a bell toll after each.

The Holy Father was then led to the room at the 9/11 Memorial Museum that holds the piece of steel recovered from Ground Zero that was left in the shape of a cross, along with a Bible found at the site.


THE GUARDIAN, UK ONLINE

PHOTOS AND FULL REPORT AT: http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/sep/27/pope-francis-philadelphia-us-visit-live

Thousands queue for Pope Francis ahead of World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia

Francis will give mass for conclusion of World Meeting of Families
Pope emphasizes importance of “rehabilitation” at Philadelphia prison
‘God weeps’: Pope Francis meets with victims of clerical sexual abuse, but words ring hollow for some survivors.
Saturday: Pope ditches speech for improvised address on family


People gather along Benjamin Franklin Parkway as the pope visits Philadelphia. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

Is Pope Francis’s utopia attainable?

Guardian opinion contributor Anthea Butler has a great post on Comment is Free about the freewheelin’ pope’s appearance yesterday at the World Meeting of Families:

The real question, next, is this: how long will the feel-good focus on families and their struggles actually last after the pope packs up and leaves for Rome? In a world where families are drowning on beaches to escape war, leaving the church because of sexual abuse, or denied access because of sexual orientation, the utopia that Pope Francis desires may be impossible for the church to attain.

You can read the rest here:

Pope Francis didn't say 'abortion' – and that's what conservative Catholics need to hear Anthea Butler

After years of hyperbolic language on abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage, this pontiff is taking his church from the culture wars into the streets

Right now, Francis is making an unscheduled stop at St Joseph’s University in Philly. It’s a Jesuit university and the pope is a Jesuit; Francis often stops to meet and greet his brothers in the order.

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He’ll visit a new statue at the university, “Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time,” which has just been dedicated. It commemorates 50 years of Nostra Aetate, the statement from the church’s Second Vatican Council that restored the relationship between Roman Catholicism and Judaism. Before that moment, Roman Catholicism was plagued by anti-semitism; now relations are much more collegial.

Here’s some information from the St Joseph’s website:

That 1965 statement [Nostra Aetate] repudiated centuries of Christian claims that Jews were blind enemies of God whose spiritual life was obsolete. The document called instead for friendship and dialogue between Catholics and Jews. Shortly after, what was then Saint Joseph’s College became the first American Catholic college to respond to this appeal by establishing the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations. The sculpture will also memorialize the Institute’s work and mission.

On numerous medieval cathedrals statues of the female allegorical figures of Church (Ecclesia) and Synagogue (Synagoga) portrayed the triumph of Christianity over Judaism. Ecclesia is crowned, majestic and victorious. Synagoga is defeated and blindfolded, her crown fallen at her feet.

“In 1965, Nostra Aetate rejected such images, declaring that Jews are beloved by an ever-faithful God whose promises are irrevocable,” says University President, C Kevin Gillespie, SJ.

“The statue of ‘Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time’ will portray Jews and Christians using the medieval figures in a strikingly different way to express Catholic teaching today.”

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NBC NEWS

Pope Francis Kicks Off His Final Day in U.S. With Prison Visit, Philadelphia Mass by TRACY CONNOR and ELISHA FIELDSTADT


Pope Francis arrives at Independence Mall where he is to deliver remarks on the theme "We Hold These Truths," a quote from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Saturday. The pope winds down his six-day visit to the United States on Sunday. Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

PHILADELPHIA — Pope Francis refuses to forget society's most vulnerable.

The people's pontiff began the final day of his historic U.S. trip on Sunday by meeting with victims of clergy sex abuse and other forms of abuse before telling bishops at a local seminary that he promised to "zealously" protect young people.

Pope Francis then urged bishops at St. Martin of Tours to practice "oversight to ensure that youth are protected." He also promised that those responsible for the sexual abuse "will be held accountable."

"God weeps for the sexual abuse of children," the pontiff added.

"I am profoundly sorry that your innocence was violated by those who you trusted," Pope Francis told victims, according to a log of the remarks from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Francis prayed with and blessed the victims he met with — three women and two men, who are now adults, according to a statement from the Vatican. The meeting lasted about a half hour, the statement said.

Victims' groups have said that the church has not done enough to aid the children affected by clerical sexual abuse.

Pope Francis on Immigrants: 'Immigrants Bring Many Gifts to this Nation'

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said Sunday that the pope's visit with victims was "another feel good, do nothing papal meeting with survivors."

The pope has focused on meeting with the sick and beleaguered during his U.S. trip. On Saturday he halted his motorcade to kiss a young boy with cerebral palsy.

And Francis's penultimate scheduled stop Sunday was Philadelphia's largest prison — the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility — where he met with young prisoners and corrections officers. Inmates at the prison built a special chair for Francis to sit in, and the pope's speech was broadcast to all the prisoners.

Francis told the inmates that they are not alone, and should not feel deserted during their time in prison.

"I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own," the pope said. "Any society, any family, which cannot share or take seriously the pain of its children, and views that pain as something normal or to be expected, is a society condemned to remain a hostage to itself."

Francis said the faithful should commit to helping the prisoners in their time of "rehabilitation" because no one is perfect.

"All of us have something we need to be cleansed of, or purified from. May the knowledge of that fact inspire us to live in solidarity, to support one another and seek the best for others," he said. Pope Francis to Prisoners: 'No One Should be Excluded'

After the prison visit, the pontiff's final U.S. mass is expected to draw the largest audience of his tour.

Eileen and Conrad Haubrich are bringing their 12-year-old son, Brett, who has brain cancer, to the event.

"I'm hoping my son will get a blessing from the pope. God works miracles through Pope Francis so we are hoping he will be healed," said Eileen Haubrich.

"But Brett really just wants to see the pope. He's a big fan of his message. And it's really exciting for him."

Crowds have thronged Francis at every stop of his six-day tour, with the pope charming audiences in Washington, New York and now Philadelphia.

Krystyna Szymanski, 50, told NBC News that she has noticed a transformation in her city during the pope's visit. "It changed Philadelphia. Everyone is pleasant. Everyone is happy. Everyone is willing to help people," Szymanski said while waiting for the pope to deliver his message. "The pope leaves, but I hope the change will stay."

More than 1.5 million people are expected to pack the area between City Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art for Sunday mass — Francis' last scheduled public event in the U.S. before he heads back to Rome later Sunday.

Security has been tight around the pontiff's visit, with Philadelphia no exception. Large stretches of downtown have been closed to vehicle traffic and pedestrians entering a 1.6 mile corridor are subject to search, according to the Associated Press. A man was arrested Saturday for getting past a checkpoint and trespassing within the blocked off area, according to Philadelphia police.

Sister Maria Teresa and fellow nuns from the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal convent in the Bronx, New York, had been waiting for the pope's motorcade since 7:30 a.m. Sunday. "Basically, you just want to hug him," she said.

They would have to wait a bit longer, as Francis made an unscheduled stop at St Joseph's, a Jesuit University. The pope visited with school leaders at the college's newly dedicated statue, "Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time," which commemorates the 50th anniversary of a more harmonious relationship between the Catholic and Jewish faiths, according to the school.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the stop was meant "to celebrate the anniversary of the inter-religious dialogue."

"Since his election, the Holy Father has inspired us in so many ways … He has reenergized and strengthened our student body in their Catholic faith," Saint Joseph's president Mark C. Reed said in a statement. "To have him actually set foot on our campus will be unforgettable."

The bishops at St. Martin of Tours appeared to be responsive the pope's earlier message of bishops' responsibilities to defend the young through the preservation of family.

Francis blamed the lack of familial bonds on "running after the latest fad; a 'like,' accumulating followers on any of the social networks."

"We human beings get caught up in what contemporary society has to offer," which leads to "loneliness with fear of commitment in a limitless effort to feel recognized," Francis said.

"In the Congress a few days ago I said we are living in a culture that pushes and convinces our youth to not create families — some because they don't have the means at their disposal and others because they have so much at their disposal that they're very comfortable as they are. That is the temptation to not create a family," he said.

On Saturday, the pope drew laughs in closing out the World Meeting of Families, a Vatican-sponsored conference and festival for more than 18,000 people. He ditched prepared remarks for an off-the-cuff monologue on the importance of family complete with a joke about mothers-in-law.

Tracy Connor reported from Philadelphia. Elisha Fieldstadt reported from New York.  


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