Massive crowds, excessive security, and extreme restrictions were all put into place for the last stop of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. The city of Philadelphia took all the right precautions in hosting this historical event.
His first stop in Philadelphia was hosting Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint’s Peter and Paul. He delivered a homily before more than 2,000 people. The crowds were as far away as Philadelphia’s city hall, more than a mile from the pope’s altar. The Mass could be heard across most of the city where people watched in awe on big screens. Francis praised the “…efforts of all those dedicated priests, religious and laity who for over two centuries have ministered to the spiritual needs of the poor, the immigrants, the sick, and those in prison.”
The Pope’s visit to Philadelphia was a spiritual boost for the clergymen of the city. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, having been lashed out at in recent years for sexual abuse scandals, parish mergers, and school closings, needed this visit for people to recommit themselves to the faith. The Vatican said Francis met with five adult victims who were abused by members of the Church when they were younger.
Saturday night, Francis gave an address on religious freedom and immigration. He then made an appearance at the Festival of Families. Throughout his U.S. tour, at almost every stop, he has mentioned the topic of immigration. He also focused on the difficulties of supporting the family structure in a changing world. Pope Francis emphasizes the simple and most meaningful aspects of our lives. He recognizes the importance and the hardships a family faces on a daily basis and understands what it takes to bring a family together.
All people, young and old, religious and non-religious, wanted to be a part of this historical moment. Steve Mitchell, 61, a deacon from the archdiocese in Detroit, stated, “It’s a historic moment, this is a guy who has caught the attention of everyone. He’s everyone’s pope. Non-Catholics, even atheists.”
Pope Francis speaks humbly and passionately. Regardless of the situation, he goes out of his way to bless the sick, poor, and disabled. The children Francis blessed brought more than a million people closer during his Sunday mass which closed the first World Meeting of Families conference in the U.S.
The visit of Pope Francis allowed for a widespread influence that touched many people in some way. Everyone reading the news articles, watching his speeches, and hearing about the good he has brought during his six day U.S. tour has many people feeling moved and empowered.