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Pope Francis ends US visit with huge open-air massive crowd
« on: September 28, 2015, 08:13:20 AM »

Pope Francis urged hundreds of thousands of the faithful gathered on Sunday for the biggest event of his US visit to be open to "miracles of love," closing out his six-day tour with a message of hope for families, consolation for victims of child sexual abuse and a warning to America's bishops.

Organisers had predicted a crowd of 1 million for Francis' open-air mass, and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway overflowed with the jubilant. They endured hours-long lines and airport-style security checks to see history's first pope from the Americas in the birthplace of the United States.

The mass - the final event on Francis' itinerary before the 78-year-old pontiff was to return to Rome - was a brilliant tableau of gold, green and white in the slanted 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 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 before him.

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 the mass with fellow parishioners on a large screen set up 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."

Of the pope, she said: "He's brought so much joy and holy spirit into the United States. It doesn't matter if you're a Catholic; he's just trying to unite everybody for a better world."


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