Pope Francis concludes US tour, leaves behind strong statements on immigration, climate, family
Pope Francis delivers his Sunday Angelus prayer from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St Peter's Square in the Vatican on August 30, 2015 (AFP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli)

Pope Francis has departed the US, concluding a tour of three cities – New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia – defined by soaring statements on immigration, climate change, mercy and the importance of families.

The pontiff boarded the chartered Alitalia jet known as Shepherd One at 7.30pm and waved goodbye from the window after a dramatic final day which brought Philadelphia to a standstill.

His tour marked several firsts for the papacy: Francis was the first pope to address a joint sitting of US Congress. He also proclaimed Junipero Serra, a controversial 18th Spaniard who conducted missionary work in California, a saint in the first canonization to occur on US soil.

US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon received the pontiff warmly during his official duties. Speaker John Boehner, moved to tears during the pope’s address to congress, resigned soon afterwards.

Francis was received with adulation among ordinary Americans, who gathered to cheer in several popemobile-led parades. The Hispanic community, prisoners, undocumented workers and other marginalized groups were given special attention by the pontiff, as were children and Americans with disabilities.

Tight security was an annoyance for both the pope and his fans, preventing many from attending events for which they had tickets.

Protests also attended the pope’s engagements: arrests were made over women’s ordination in Washington DC and many Native Americans were outraged that Serra, described as a brutal colonizer, was made a saint.

Much-anticipated statements on climate change and immigration were well-received by Democrats; Republican Catholics were left in the cold as Francis neglected to give explicit approval to their traditional pro-life causes.

The pope met victims of child abuse in Philadelphia and pledged to bring clerics who committed abuse to justice.

The tour concluded with a mass for an estimated crowd of between 800,000 and one million people on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Updated at 1.16am BST

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The pope shakes the hands of the US bishops and other dignitaries before boarding.

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The congregation at the pope’s final mass didn’t seem to reach the one million figure organizers had hoped:

In the wash-up, I’d expect there would be harsh words for those responsible for thousands of Catholics with tickets being denied entry. Overzealous security has been a hallmark of this US tour just as much as Pope Francis’s requests that crowds pray for him:

Updated at 12.18am BST

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Updated at 12.03am BST

11.59pm BST

The Francis effect:

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11.53pm BST

Pope Francis turns as he is about to be hustled out the door by his posse and goes back into people’s pope mode. He kisses and blesses children, shakes hands, smiles and talks through his translator. At every point during this tour when he’s been listless, a few short moments with the people recharges his batteries.

11.37pm BST

Pope Francis's farewell: do not let your enthusiasm run dry, evil never has the last word

My days with you have been brief. But they have been days of great grace for me and, I pray, for you too. Please know that as I prepare to leave, I do so with a heart full of gratitude and hope. I am grateful to all of you and to the many others who worked so hard to make my visit possible and to prepare for the World Meeting of Families. In a particular way I thank Archbishop Chaput and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the civil authorities, the organizers, and all the many volunteers and benefactors who assisted in ways large and small.

I also thank the families who shared their witness during the meeting. It is not so easy to speak openly of one’s life journey! But their honesty and humility before the Lord and each of us showed the beauty of family life in all its richness and diversity. I pray that our days of prayer and reflection on the importance of the family for a healthy society will inspire families to continue to strive for holiness and to see the Church as their constant companion, whatever the challenges they may face. At the end of my visit, I would also like to thank all those who prepared for my stay in the Archdioceses of Washington and New York.

It was particularly moving for me to canonize Saint Junípero Serra, who reminds us all of our call to be missionary disciples, and I was also very moved to stand with my brothers and sisters of other religions at Ground Zero, that place which speaks so powerfully of the mystery of evil. Yet we know with certainty that evil never has the last word, and that, in God’s merciful plan, love and peace triumph over all. Mr Vice-President, I ask you to renew my gratitude to President Obama and to the Members of Congress, together with the assurance of my prayers for the American people.

This land has been blessed with tremendous gifts and opportunities. I pray that you may all be good and generous stewards of the human and material resources entrusted to you. I thank the Lord that I was able to witness the faith of God’s people in this country, as manifested in our moments of prayer together and evidenced in so many works of charity.

Jesus says in the Scriptures: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me”. Your care for me and your generous welcome are a sign of your love for Jesus and your faithfulness to him. So too is your care for the poor, the sick, the homeless and the immigrant, your defense of life at every stage, and your concern for family life. In all of this, you recognize that Jesus is in your midst and that your care for one another is care for Jesus himself.

As I leave, I ask all of you, especially the volunteers and benefactors who assisted with the World Meeting of Families: do not let your enthusiasm for Jesus, his Church, our families, and the broader family of society run dry. May our days together bear fruit that will last, generosity and care for others that will endure! Just as we have received so much from God – gifts freely given us, and not of our own making – so let us freely give to others in return.

Dear friends, I embrace all of you in the Lord and I entrust you to the maternal care of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States. I will pray for you and your families, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. May God bless you all. God bless America!

Updated at 11.40pm BST

11.37pm BST

What a great photo.

11.33pm BST

Pope Francis takes the papal Fiat to his final appointment, a meeting with around 500 organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families. They’ll be eager to see him; they were unable to attend the mass because they were assembled at the airport to farewell the pope before he departs.

The pope will give a short address. Vice President Joe Biden will farewell Francis from the US.

11.22pm BST

Pope Francis still has one more engagement before he leaves the US. He’ll speak soon to organisers and volunteers of the World Meeting of Families.

In the meantime, here’s some of the many cartoons from the pope’s US tour.

Updated at 11.23pm BST

11.04pm BST

AP is reporting that the heavy security in Philadelphia killed off trade for local businesses on what should have been a busy weekend:

With sales down more than 50 percent, Robek’s, a juice and smoothie shop, decided to close early Sunday.

Manager Dave Deener blamed the intense security, including concrete barriers and a vehicle checkpoint near the entrance. National Guard troops and a police officer sat on folding chairs nearby.

“It’s awful. Everybody got scared off because of the security detail,” he said.

Center City hotel rooms went unfilled, and tables could be had at some of the city’s trendiest restaurants. On normally bustling South Street, bars, restaurants, sneaker stores and smoke shops — usually filled on weekends with city residents, suburban gawkers and tourists — were empty.

10.57pm BST

At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious:

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“And please pray for me – don’t forget!”

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Next World Meeting of Families to be held in Dublin, 2018

Cardinal Vincenzo Paglia announces the next World Meeting of Families. He adds that thousands of copies of the Gospel of Luke will be distributed to poor families in some of the world’s biggest cities.

A Syrian family who will return home are “not going home empty handed”, Paglia says. The money from today’s congregation will be used to heat the homes of Syrians during the upcoming winter.

Families come to meet the pope and mass is ended:

Irish clergy are already praising the decision:

Updated at 10.53pm BST

10.45pm BST

Cardinal Vincenzo Paglia is on board with the pope’s program. During the jubilee year of mercy that is ahead, “the doors of all Catholic cathedral and shrines will be opened”, he says, but:

We must open the doors of our homes and our hearts to welcome our brothers and sisters who are in need

This is the prophesy that all families are called upon to fulfill. In this way each family will become a sanctuary of mercy.

10.40pm BST

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia thanks the pope:

This has been a week of fellowship and blessing and a papal visit dedicated to the beauty of our family. None of us will forget these days for the rest of our lives. There aren’t enough words to thank you all for being here …

But I need to try: Philadelphia has a very big heart and is full today with gratitude, with confidence in each other as children of a loving God, and with hope today we’ll begin in a new spirit ...

He pays tribute to the generous city, state and federal workers, sponsors, bureaucrats who “worked tirelessly” on the celebration.

Holy Father, thank you for leading us in worship and in the life of the church. Thankyou for bringing your spirit to our city and to the world.

10.35pm BST

A young man climbs a traffic light to see Pope Francis:

And in Jan Luyken’s depiction of a scene from the Bible, Zacchaeus climbs a tree to see Jesus:

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Disappointed visitors increasingly fled the lines once it became clear the mass would begin without them, but others clung to hope that they could join the congregation. Alan Yuhas reports from Philadelphia:

Adam Clemente, a carpenter from New Jersey, said, he would endure the difficult crowds for the sake of his two young children.

“I’d just as well find a bar to watch the Eagles,” he said, “but they had their hearts set on seeing the pope”.

“Im excited to see him,” said nine-year-old Damian Raritan, another child in he crowd. But asked whether he would mind missing the pope, he shrugged: “Eh.”

Nancy Loughlin, a retiree from Trumbull, Connecticut, said she would be “a little disappointed” to have missed the pope because of the huge throngs and the glacial pace of security.

Trumbull had come with four buses earlier that morning, and in three hours had walked about three city blocks, still 100m from the checkpoint. She tried to find a silver lining to her mass with the pope that wasn’t. ‘I took some pictures on the TV and they’re almost like being there, she said. ‘And this is still an experience at least.”

In downtown Philadelphia, hundreds gathered to watch the mass on giant screens in a quiet that belied the size of the crowd. The Tompkins family, who couldn’t reach the parkway despite having tickets right in front of the stage, said they weren’t disappointed because they had caught the celebration of the day before.

“Now that was great,” Celeste Tompkins said, echoing her husband’s verdict that the pope’s odd but joyful speech was what she had been hoping for from the pontiff. “It was wonderful to see him.”

10.24pm BST

Catholics pray after holy communion.

10.18pm BST

That’s a big congregation.

Updated at 10.20pm BST

10.16pm BST

A million people offer each other the sign of peace: a kiss on the cheek or handshake. I occasionally throw in a “g’day” or “good onya” back home but in the US things seem a little more formal.

10.06pm BST

Now the communion rite. This time it’s in Latin.

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Pope Francis's Philadelphia homily

As far as papal homilies go, that was a tour de force. It won’t have excited the crowds the way last night’s freelance observations on family did (partly because it was in Spanish, and those present had no translation – I hope they were reading the liveblog) but there was a lot in there:

  • A rejection of narrowness, sterile division, officialdom and inner circles – with the upcoming Synod, the bishops will be hearing this loud and clear.
  • A rejection of the “temptation to be scandalized”. Francis criticizes the tendency to be upset and scandalized by everything in what Catholics call “the culture” – meaning the secular world.
  • He insists that the Holy Spirit can work in those who are not “part of our group”, who are not “like us” – ie. non Catholics. To deny this is a “dangerous temptation”, a “block to conversion” (remember, the word scandal comes from skandalon, or stumbling block) and a “perversion of faith”.
  • Love is especially found in little acts of everyday love and kindness, and “faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love”.
  • Jesus encourages these acts of solidarity; yet we cannot answer questions about how a society grows out of these acts without the help of the Holy Spirit.
  • Anyone whose family is oriented towards overcoming evil shows the influence of the spirit at work, and should “encounter our gratitude and our appreciation”, “whatever the family, people, region or religion to which they belong”.

Updated at 10.08pm BST

9.37pm BST

Excite children to overcome evil – that’s what should earn the church’s approval:

Pointedly, yet affectionately, Jesus tells us: “If you, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”. How much wisdom there is in these few words! It is true that, as far as goodness and purity of heart are concerned, we human beings don’t have much to show! But Jesus knows that, where children are concerned, we are capable of boundless generosity.

So he reassures us: if only we have faith, the Father will give us his Spirit. We Christians, the Lord’s disciples, ask the families of the world to help us! How many of us are here at this celebration! This is itself something prophetic, a kind of miracle in today’s world. Would that we could all be prophets! Would that all of us could be open to miracles of love for the sake of all the families of the world, and thus overcome the scandal of a narrow, petty love, closed in on itself, impatient of others!

The pope here made some off-the-cuff remarks:

I’ll leave for you a question so that each one may respond to it. In my house do people yell? Or do you speak with love and affection? This is a good way to measure our love.

He continued on script:

And how beautiful it would be if everywhere, even beyond our borders, we could appreciate and encourage this prophecy and this miracle! We renew our faith in the word of the Lord which invites faithful families to this openness. It invites all those who want to share the prophecy of the covenant of man and woman, which generates life and reveals God!

Here he added: “With kindness, with patience, and with love, so we can take care of our grandparents and children.”

Anyone who wants to bring into this world a family which teaches children to be excited by every gesture aimed at overcoming evil – a family which shows that the Spirit is alive and at work – will encounter our gratitude and our appreciation. Whatever the family, people, region, or religion to which they belong! May God grant to all of us, as the Lord’s disciples, the grace to be worthy of this purity of heart which is not scandalized by the Gospel!

Updated at 9.43pm BST

9.34pm BST

“Our common home can no longer tolerate sterile divisions,” says the pope:

Jesus tells us not to hold back these little miracles. Instead, he wants us to encourage them, to spread them. He asks us to go through life, our everyday life, encouraging all these little signs of love as signs of his own living and active presence in our world. So we might ask ourselves: How are we trying to live this way in our homes, in our societies? What kind of world do we want to leave to our children?
We cannot answer these questions alone, by ourselves. It is the Spirit who challenges us to respond as part of the great human family. Our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions. 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. May our children find in us models and incentives to communion! May our children find in us men and women capable of joining others in bringing to full flower all the good seeds which the Father has sown!

Updated at 9.37pm BST

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It is a “dangerous temptation”, a “perversion” to think the spirit cannot work in the lives of non-Catholics:

Our Father will not be outdone in generosity and he continues to scatter seeds. He scatters the seeds of his presence in our world, for “love consists in this, not that we have loved God but that he loved us” first. That love gives us a profound certainty: we are sought by God; he waits for us. It is this confidence which makes disciples encourage, support and nurture the good things happening all around them. God wants all his children to take part in the feast of the Gospel.

Jesus says, “Do not hold back anything that is good, instead help it to grow!” To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not “part of our group”, who are not “like us”, is a dangerous temptation. Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of faith! Faith opens a “window” to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures.

“Whoever gives you a cup of water in my name will not go unrewarded”, says Jesus. These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work.

Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith.

Updated at 10.11pm BST

9.27pm BST

Pope Francis rejects 'narrowness', 'officialdom' and 'temptation to be scandalized'

Pope Francis’s homily today is about the “freedom of God”, which bypasses officialdom and inner circles:

Today the word of God surprises us with powerful and thought-provoking images. Images which challenge us, but also stir our enthusiasm. In the first reading, Joshua tells Moses that two members of the people are prophesying, speaking God’s word, without a mandate. In the Gospel, John tells Jesus that the disciples had stopped someone from casting out evil spirits in the name of Jesus.

Here is the surprise: Moses and Jesus both rebuke those closest to them for being so narrow! Would that all could be prophets of God’s word! Would that everyone could work miracles in the Lord’s name! Jesus encountered hostility from people who did not accept what he said and did.

For them, his openness to the honest and sincere faith of many men and women who were not part of God’s chosen people seemed intolerable. The disciples, for their part, acted in good faith. But the temptation to be scandalized by the freedom of God, who sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike, bypassing bureaucracy, officialdom and inner circles, threatens the authenticity of faith.

Hence it must be vigorously rejected. Once we realize this, we can understand why Jesus’ words about causing “scandal” are so harsh. For Jesus, the truly “intolerable” scandal consists in everything that breaks down and destroys our trust in the working of the Spirit!

Updated at 9.30pm BST

9.25pm BST

Spare a thought for Guardian reporter Alan Yuhas, who has spent all day stuck in security checkpoints with the would-be congregation:

Two hours into the line to reach the security checkpoint of the Ben Franklin Parkway, hundreds of people waited in varying states of patience. Brazilians, Dominicans, Poles, Illinoisans, New Yorkers and Virginians shuffled cheek and jowl inches at a time. A woman in her 60s from Pottstown, Pennsylvania, called the crowd of people crammed together “an exercise in patience”.

“It’s one that I’m failing,” her husband joked. Several people remarked that line, if it could be called that, was “insane”.

Tempers flared elsewhere in the crowd, especially when a pair of women shouted in Polish for people to move faster – even though a baby stroller and wheelchair stood in their way. Anxiety replaced enthusiasm as the clock struck 3pm and the hundreds of people failed to reach even within a block of the checkpoint, much less pass through it.

Several women started praying the Hail Mary aloud, and sporadic cheers broke out whenever a band moved more than a few feet ahead.

Families tried to stay optimistic despite the growing worry about getting onto the parkway. Jason Albirtie, a New Jersey father who was raised Catholic said they hoped to get in for “the once in a lifetime experience”.

“It’s powerful just to be here, you know? No matter what we can actually see of just one guy.”

He counseled patience to his two teenage sons. The older brother, Jason, took the crowd in stride, saying at least he’s “getting the gist of it.”

9.22pm BST

The gospel is sung:

“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”

9.19pm BST

This is another multi-lingual service. Pope Francis is praying in English and Latin, and the readings are in the speaker’s own language. This has been the model for much of the tour.

9.09pm BST

The pope calls the congregation to confess their sins, and the Kyria and Gloria are sung by another wonderful cantor and choir. Tune in to the livestream above if you want to hear some beautiful devotional music.

9.07pm BST

And here come the clergy. Those red zuchettos are for cardinals, and there are a lot of them. A few personalities among those present are:

  • Cardinal Gerhard Müller, of Germany, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrineof the Faith.
  • Cardinal Robert Sarah, of Guinea, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.
  • The “smiling cardinal,” Luis Tagle of the Phillippines.

9.00pm BST

From utter exuberance:

To stillness and silence as we await the pope:

8.53pm BST

A priest reminds the congregation that they should celebrate mass in “a spirit of reverence and joy”.

You are reminded there is to be no flag waving or hand clapping during the celebration of mass. Thankyou.

He received some muted applause from a few wags in the crowd.

8.50pm BST

Angela Christaldi, the opinion editor of St Joseph’s University newspaper the Hawk, had a few comments on the pope’s stopover:

As a former student journo, a huge thanks from me to Angela and all the staff at the Hawk – the only publication on site when the pope arrived unannounced.

Updated at 8.55pm BST

8.46pm BST

In the waiting congregation, a nun smiles at the camera. One thing that’s struck me is the prominence and joy of religious women during this tour. Pope Francis has said on a number of occasions how valuable their contribution is to the church.

8.42pm BST

I’m struggling to keep up with the bub count but he has kissed at least 20-odd children. Someone hand the pontiff a chapstick or something.

8.40pm BST

Benjamin Franklin Parkway has been cleared for an estimated 1 million worshippers today. Here’s an aerial shot:

8.38pm BST

Join the secret service, they said. See the world and protect the president they said. Now here I am cartin’ babies around to be kissed by the pope.

8.36pm BST

More babies!!!

8.32pm BST

I actually can’t keep up with how many babies Francis has kissed on this parade. I think we’re up to about six or seven.

8.29pm BST

Pope Francis stops to visit an art installation outside the cathedral. It’s a grotto made from a hundred thousand or so prayers written on knotted strips of fabric. Project HOME commissioned artist Meg Saligman to put it together, and the participants had hoped Pope Francis would come to bless the prayers.

The knots are relevant for Francis. Praying to Mary, under her title Undoer of Knots, is one of his favorite devotions (and mine!). Here’s a little excerpt from the prayer:

Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.

No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.

8.21pm BST

Pope Francis is rolling through Philadelphia again in the popemobile.

8.16pm BST

There are a lot of happy students on campus today.

8.15pm BST

Pope Francis blesses the Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time sculpture, meets representatives from the Institute of Jewish-Catholic relations, waves to students and heads off. Thousands are waiting for him to say mass elsewhere in Philly.

8.11pm BST

It’s very typical of this pope to emphasize Catholic-Jewish relations. When he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, one of Pope Francis’s closest friends was the noted Jewish scholar Rabbi Abraham Skorka. He and Pope Francis conducted a series of interfaith talks, collected as essays in Between Heaven and Earth.

Here’s Francis on Judaism :

God never abandoned his covenant with Israel, and notwithstanding their terrible suffering over the centuries, the Jewish People have kept their faith. For this, we will never be sufficiently grateful to them as a Church, but also as human beings. In the persistence of their faith in the God of the Covenant, they summon all, including us as Christians, to recall the fact that we are awaiting the return of the Lord as pilgrims, and must therefore always remain open to Him and never retreat from what we have already achieved.

Riccardo Di Segni, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, said “It is the force with which he expresses [his views on Judaism] and his capacity of communicating them that is astounding.”

8.05pm BST

Tweets here from the official university Twitter account:

8.01pm BST

A snapchat in a tweet in a liveblog of the pope: this really is 21st century journalism.

7.55pm BST

He’s arrived on campus at St Joseph’s University, according to student journalists onsite.

7.50pm BST

Please, Pope Francis, bless this oversized college mascot suit. I don’t ask for much. I beg you, grant this humble journalist one favour.

7.47pm BST

St Joseph’s student newspaper The Hawk is on campus waiting for the pope’s surprise visit. Large crowds are already awaiting his arrival.

There’s already a lot of security!

Not everyone is excited to see Pope Francis:

7.43pm BST

Few gags that have been floating around online:

7.33pm BST

No photos or video from Pope Francis’s visit to St Joseph’s university yet, but Jesuit priest James Martin just tweeted this:

7.31pm BST

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:

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

7.25pm BST

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.

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.”

Updated at 7.27pm BST

7.20pm BST

G’day everyone, Adam Brereton back on the PopeBlog now for the last few hours of Pope Francis’s US tour. It’s been a long week and I’m almost poped out, but stay with me for the Philadelphia Mega Mass and a final meeting with the organizers of the World Meeting of Families.

6.53pm BST

This Vine is for everyone waiting in line to see the pope’s 4pm mass in Philadelphia, on his final day in the United States:

This was shot earlier Sunday at the Curran-Fromhold correctional facility, during the pope’s visit to the largest prison in Philadelphia.

Updated at 6.54pm BST

6.51pm BST

Whether at Saint Joseph’s University or Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a near universal experience during the pope’s visit – for common folks, that is – are the crowds.

The Guardian’s Alan Yuhas has been waiting in line for hours to make the pope’s 4pm mass to the World Meeting of Families. He tells us a bit about what that’s like.

There‘s probably over 1,000 people over a course of two to three blocks, just waiting to get into a security checkpoint...

There’s an interesting mix of people taking is patiently, just understanding that the line is what it is and it’s not speeding up any time soon, and then there’s people getting quite upset, and shouting faster, faster in different languages, and getting upset at wheelchairs and strollers and stuff.”

By his estimation, Yuhas said he has probably moved, “50 feet in 20 or 30 minutes.”

Updated at 6.57pm BST

6.42pm BST

Here are some more scenes of the gathering crowd at Saint Joseph University’s campus.

6.36pm BST

Francis to make unexpected stop at Jesuit university

Saint Joseph’s University confirmed via Twitter that the pope will visit the campus this afternoon, sometime before the World Meeting of Families mass at 4pm, though there is no exact time.

Crowds started gathering as rumors of an impromptu papal visit circulated. At Saint Joseph’s, the excitement on campus is evident.

Francis is the first Jesuit pope of the Catholic church, and himself served as the rector of Colegio of San José and as a professor of theology from 1980 to 1986.

6.11pm BST

Catholic sex abuse survivors: "Less victims to weep over" if clergy took action

Though Pope Francis took time to speak with five survivors of sexual abuse (a meeting that was expected, but not confirmed until Sunday), some survivors of abuse by priests said the words ring hollow .

The Guardian’s Rome correspondent Stephanie Kirchgaessner explains:

It was one of many encounters the pope has had in his first visit to the US through which he sought to show his compassion for those who struggle, suffer and live at the peripheries of society, including prison inmates, poor immigrants and the homeless.

But for many victims of sexual abuse, who have lived through years of cover-ups and denials by the church, the pope’s meeting and apology was a hollow gesture. Even independent Vatican experts suggest that the sex abuse scandal –which has severely tarnished its reputation and cost $3bn in settlements in the US –is a “weak spot” for a pope otherwise seen as a moral voice for the world.

“The pope said [on Sunday] that ‘God weeps for the victims’ but we believe that there would be many less victims to weep over if Pope Francis and other church officials would take action to protect the children,” says Barbara Blaine, who was sexually abused by a local priest in Ohio and founded an outspoken advocacy group called Snap (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).

Updated at 6.12pm BST

5.56pm BST

Pope Francis will hold mass at 4pm to conclude the World Meeting of Families.

This is the line to get in.

5.56pm BST

While we watch a press conference with church leaders, it’s worth remembering what streets in Philadelphia look like right now: crowded.

5.52pm BST

A Guardian contributor, professor Anathea Butler of the University of Pennsylvania’s department of religious studies, explains the context local to Philadelphia in which we might see the pope’s remarks on sex abuse.

This statement comes in the city that convicted the first diocesan administrator, Monsignor William Lynn, of moving pedophile priests around the archdiocese without turning them over to the police or taking them out of churches.

Philadelphia went through two grand jury investigations regarding child abuse cases in 2005 and 2011, and there are still outstanding cases in the archdiocese.”

5.46pm BST

Several reporters have also asked questions about the pope’s comments on clergy sexual abuse, including how many families were victims of sex abuse by clergy.

Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said that “two or three were abused by priests or Catholic educators, at least two were for other members of the family or other educators.”

Another reporter asked why the pope waited until the end of his trip to the United States address victims of sexual abuse.

You have only to the understand that this journey has different stages and vocations. If he had a meeting with the bishop, he had many things to say to the bishop, and not only to speak of the sex abuse.”

Lombardi also said that the church, and the committee for protection of children and young people, sees its mission as to protect all young people of all religions from abuse. Not just within the church.

We know the problem is a universal problem, not just in the church but in society.”

5.29pm BST

Church leaders answer questions about pope's visit

Leaders of the Catholic church are now holding a press conference to answer questions about the pope’s message. The first is about the pope’s view on same-sex marriage. Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, answers.

The vision of the pope and of the church of the family, is the family that is built by a man and a woman, and the Christian family as the sacramental the marriage that unites the man and the woman.”

Updated at 5.29pm BST

5.17pm BST

During that visit, Pope Francis also received an icon of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre from bishops in Cuba.

He asked bishops at Saint Charles Borromeo seminary to fulfill that duty for him. He told them:

I’m not going to get in this difficult situation. You will decide which Cuban community needs this the most.”

5.03pm BST

In related news, President Obama announced he will hold his first formal meeting with Cuban President Raúl Castro on Tuesday in New York.

Some are calling it the “Francis effect”.

Francis visited Cuba before arriving in the US. There, he addressed the thaw in diplomatic relations between the countries “a sign of the victory of the culture of encounter and dialogue, the system of universal growth over the forever-dead system of groups and dynasties”.

Updated at 5.13pm BST

4.56pm BST

People slept on the street last night to try to stake out their position at the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families.

This happened last night as well , outside the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Perhaps it’s because they thought they couldn’t catch a train. Though subways are reportedly running on schedule now, the director of Philadelphia transit system told the Philadelphia Inquirer some people leaving tonight’s event could have to wait up to two hours to board a train.

4.43pm BST

A mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families should be one of the largest events in Philadelphia, before the pope’s departure to Rome at 8pm this evening.

The mass is more than four hours away, but many are already reporting staggering queues.

Updated at 5.14pm BST

4.40pm BST

As Pope Francis concludes his visit at Curran-Fromhold prison, it’s worth taking note of where the event happened. The prison is Philadelphia’s largest, processing up to 30,000 arrestees each year. The facility spans 25 acres.

In the state of Pennsylvania, no one has been executed since 1995. The pope condemned capital punishment before Congress during his time in Washington. But the state hasn’t outlawed the practice; instead, there is a moratorium .

I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes,” he said .

Updated at 5.16pm BST

4.06pm BST

Pope Francis is spending a significant amount of time shaking each inmate’s hand.

He is also honoring inmates’ requests to bless their religious items such as rosaries before leaving the room.

Updated at 5.16pm BST

3.57pm BST

Here is a better look at the gifts prisoners gave the pope during his visit.

Updated at 5.16pm BST

3.56pm BST

The pope then goes off-script for a short blessing, before shaking hands with each prisoner in the first row.

We ask the lord to bless us. May God bless you and protect you, and make his face shine upon you, and may he grant you peace.

He will go on to meet in the gym with 100 male and female inmates, a meeting which will be broadcast throughout the prison, Vatican live stream announcers said.

The inmates who were chosen to sit in on the pope’s speech regularly attend Catholic worship services, have good behavioral records and are in “self-improvement programs”, the Philadelphia prison commission told the Wall Street Journal .

Updated at 5.18pm BST

3.52pm BST

Francis then goes on to speak about prison systems at large, and the importance of rehabilitation programs.

It is painful when we see prison systems which are not concerned to care for wounds, to soothe pain, to offer new possibilities. It is painful when we see people who think that only others need to be cleansed, purified, and do not recognize that their weariness, pain and wounds are also the weariness, pain and wounds of society.

Updated at 5.18pm BST

3.48pm BST

As Pope Francis speaks to prisoners, he uses washing feet as a metaphor for healing and the difficulties of life:

We know in faith that Jesus seeks us out. He wants to heal our wounds to sooth our feet, which hurt from traveling alone… Confinement is not the same thing as exclusion.”

3.41pm BST

Pope Francis begins speech at Curran-Fromhold prison

The Holy Father began his speech by telling inmates he shares their pain.

I know it is a painful time, not only for you, but also for your families and for all of society. 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, prey to the very things which cause that pain. I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own.

Updated at 3.43pm BST

3.38pm BST

Pope Francis begins his speech by saying he will only speak in Spanish.

I will speak in Spanish, because I don’t know English,” he said.

Updated at 3.43pm BST

3.35pm BST

Here is a little more of the scene within Curran-Fromhold correctional facility.

3.34pm BST

Pope Francis is about to speak at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.

He is sitting in a chair made by inmates at the prison. Local politicians, including Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter and district attorney R Seth Williams, are present.

Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput is the first to speak.

Updated at 3.44pm BST

3.23pm BST

Pope Francis’s speech at the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary also focused heavily on the family and the importance of priests encouraging people to marry.

The pope got more than one chuckle out of the crowd when encouraging priests to tell young people to marry:

In Buenos Aires, how many women tell me: ‘My son is 30, 34 years old and he’s not getting married. I don’t know what to do!’

And I say: ‘Don’t iron his shirts anymore.’

Updated at 3.45pm BST

3.14pm BST

In preparation for his next speech, Pope Francis just landed at Curran-Fromhold correctional facility. That speech begins in about 45 minutes.

3.10pm BST

Vatican confirms that Pope Francis met with victims

We’ve just received a statement from Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi about Pope Francis’s meeting with victims of sexual abuse.

The pope met with victims of sexual abuse between 8am and 9am, for about 30 minutes, just before his speech at the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary.

He listened to the individual stories and spoke as a group to three women and two men, each abused as children by clergy, teachers or a family member. Each was accompanied by a “family member or support person”. The archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, and the archbishop of Boston, Patrick O’Malley, chair of Pope Francis’s commission to protect minors, was also present.

He then prayed with them and expressed his solidarity in sharing their suffering, as well as his own pain and shame in especially in the case of injury caused them by clergy or church workers.

The statement goes on to reiterate: “The guilty be punished and crimes of abuse be combated with an effective prevention program in the church and in society.”

The Pope thanked the victims for their essential contribution to restore the truth and begin the journey of healing.

The pope then blessed the victims. The statement confirms the meeting last about 30 minutes.

Updated at 3.47pm BST

2.58pm BST

Francis deviated – significantly – before he even began prepared remarks, speaking strongly about child sexual abuse in the church.

For the sexual abuse of children – these cannot be maintained in secret, and I commit to a careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected, and all responsible will be held accountable.

The Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter reports that Pope Francis met with victims for about 30 minutes before his speech to bishops this morning, and prayed with victims.

That would line up with Father Thomas Rosica’s statement that Francis met with victims this morning.

Updated at 3.47pm BST

2.50pm BST

As Pope Francis leaves the seminary chapel now, let’s first look at the pope’s prepared remarks and where he deviated.

He was expected to speak about same-sex marriage and consumerism. He compared the differences between “Christian marriage” and legal marriage with local markets and so-called big box stores, and went on to criticize “trends” and consumer culture.

Until recently, we lived in a social context where the similarities between the civil institution of marriage and the Christian sacrament were considerable and shared. The two were interrelated and mutually supportive. This is no longer the case. To describe our situation today, I would use two familiar images: our neighborhood stores and our large supermarkets.

Francis called local markets humble but personal.

The products may not have been cleverly displayed, or offered much choice, but there was a personal bond between the shopkeeper and his customers. Business was done on the basis of trust, people knew one another, they were all neighbors.

Those markets, Francis said, were replaced by what Americans might know as “big box” stores.

Then a different kind of store grew up: the supermarket. Huge spaces with a great selection of merchandise. The world seems to have become one of these great supermarkets; our culture has become more and more competitive.


Today’s culture seems to encourage people not to bond with anything or anyone, not to trust. The most important thing nowadays seems to be follow the latest trend or activity.

Updated at 3.48pm BST

2.31pm BST

This was already a packed speech – Francis was expected to speak about the importance of family and the church’s view on marriage – instead, he met with victims of sex abuse this morning and came into the chapel with a message of justice for victims of sex abuse at the hands of priests, and has gone on to speak about the problems with young people putting off marriage.

He’s still going off script and we’re trying to keep up!

2.22pm BST

Pope Francis appears to have met with victims of sexual abuse this morning.

Father Thomas Rosica, above, is the English-language spokesperson for the Holy See’s press office.

This is a surprise – Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi said yesterday he could not confirm whether the Holy Father would meet with the victims of abuse, because he said it could not be a “media” event.

2.16pm BST

Pope Francis in off-script child sex abuse remarks: "God weeps."

Pope Francis just went off script unexpectedly to address child sex abuse in the church:

[It] continues to be on my mind that people who had the responsibility to take care of these tender ones [children] violated that trust and caused them great pain.

God weeps for the sexual abuse of children. These cannot be maintained in secret, and I commit to a careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected and all responsible will be held accountable.

Those who have survived this abuse have become true heralds of mercy – humbly, we owe each of them our gratitude for their great value as they have had to suffer this terrible abuse sexual abuse of minors.


I would like to express my gratitude to the archbishop, and I felt it very important that I shared this message with you today, and I am very happy to be able to share these moments of pastoral reflection with you amid the joyful celebrations of this World Meeting of Families.”

Francis said these remarks before a prepared speech to bishops at the St Charles Borromeo seminary. He went off script in Spanish; this is the translation of the interpreter for the official papal live stream.

Updated at 3.50pm BST

2.00pm BST

Pope Francis just entered the hall at St Charles Borromeo to the applause of Catholic seminary students, flanked by his entourage and led by photographers and camera men.

The students are all smiles.

1.58pm BST

The first stop in Pope Francis’s busy schedule in Philadelphia today, the last day of his visit to the United States, begins with a speech to a meeting of bishops at Saint Martin’s Chapel in the Saint Charles Borromeo seminary. Francis has also slept at the seminary while he is in Philadelphia. The speech should begin at about 9:15am.

Seminarians are already lined up along a hall at St Charles Borromeo, single-file behind a velvet rope. We can also see other church officials walking the corridor.

The men standing in the hall (only men can be ordained) are continually leaning in to see if they can catch a glimpse of the Holy Father.

1.41pm BST

Good morning, and welcome to the Guardian’s continuing coverage of Pope Francis’ historic visit to the US. Today is the pontiff’s final day in the Americas, day nine of a tour that began in Havana and has since taken in Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

He remains in the City of Brotherly Love today, with a visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on the schedule before a mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. After that, this evening, Francis will fly back to Rome.

In his remarks to the Festival of Families on Saturday night, Francis struck a lighter tone than in previous speeches, in which he has addressed immigration , climate change ,women’s rights and other weighty – and, in the US, controversial – subjects.

Going off script, the pontiff joked and riffed on the subject of family. This from Rory Carroll and Alan Yuhas at the scene :

The pastoral address ignored the culture wars and instead veered between piety, homespun advice and laughs – including a line about mothers-in-law.

“You know what God loves most?” he asked the crowd, hushed and enraptured on a moonlit night. “To knock on the door of families and to find the families who love each other – families who bring up their children to grow and to move forward. Who create, who develop a society of truth, goodness and beauty.”

In the meantime, you can see how the pope’s visit has affected the good folk of Philadelphia here , and how it has affected long-suffering, miracle-needing Philadelphia Eagles fans here – all thanks to Jessica Lee, Sarah Eberspacher and Jana Kasperkevic.

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