Message of hope to a nation in need…..
Pope Francis urged hundreds of thousands of the faithful gathered Sunday for the biggest event of his U.S. visit to be open to “miracles of love,” closing out his joyful six-day trip with a message of hope for families, consolation for victims of child sexual abuse and a warning to America’s bishops.
The wide Benjamin Franklin Parkway overflowed with the jubilant, who stood in line for hours and endured airport-style security checks to see history’s first pope from the Americas celebrate an open-air Mass in the birthplace of the United States.
The Mass — the last major event on Francis’ itinerary before the 78-year-old pontiff took off on the flight home to Rome — was a brilliant tableau of gold, green, white and purple in the evening sunlight of a mild early-autumn day.
Riding through the streets in his open-sided popemobile, the pontiff waved to cheering, screaming, singing, flag-waving crowds and kissed babies as he made his way to the altar at the steps of the columned Philadelphia Museum of Art.
With a towering golden crucifix behind him, Francis told his listeners that their presence itself was “a kind of miracle in today’s world,” an affirmation of the family and the power of love.
“Would that all of us could be open to miracles of love for the sake of all the families of the world,” he said to the hushed crowd spread out along the tree-lined boulevard.
Crowds a mile away fell silent during the Communion part of the Mass. Some people knelt on the paving stones at City Hall, a few blocks from the altar.
June Bounds, 56, of Rochester, New York, watched with fellow parishioners on a large screen at City Hall, closing her eyes and blinking back tears.
“It’s very overwhelming,” she said. “You feel like you’re one body with everyone here, whether you’re here, whether you’re back home, whether you’re anywhere in the world.”