The Latest: With Pope Francis heading home, crowds do too

AP News
|
Posted: Sep 27, 2015 9:00 PM
The Latest: With Pope Francis heading home, crowds do too

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Latest developments in Pope Francis' visit to the United States. All times local:

8:45 p.m.

The hundreds of thousands who journeyed to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis have thinned to a smattering of people taking pictures, stopping to get food, or heading home.

Lines for regional commuter trains Sunday were down to a short 10-minute wait from the hours some spent clearing security to get onto the parkway, where the pope celebrated a final Mass for the World Meeting of Families, the worldwide Catholic gathering that brought him to the city.

Barricades that kept traffic off the streets were coming down and trash bags were already piling up for pickup. Still, among the silence was the occasional excited chatter of pilgrims leaving the city after catching a glimpse — or hoping to — of "the people's pope."

The 78-year-old pontiff spent six days in the U.S. after a four-day visit to Cuba.

___

7:45 p.m.

Pope Francis' plane has taken off from Philadelphia as his 10-day trip to Cuba and the United States comes to a close.

The private American Airlines plane took off Sunday night hours after Francis celebrated Mass for hundreds of thousands of people in downtown Philadelphia.

The Mass capped a day that included his speaking with sex abuse survivors and jail inmates. It was the culmination of a trip that also featured addresses to Congress and the United Nations.

The 78-year-old spent six days with packed itineraries in Washington, New York and Philadelphia after a four-day visit to Cuba.

Francis announced Sunday night that the next World Meeting of Families will be in 2018 in Dublin. The event in Philadelphia this week was the original reason he came on the trip.

___

6:40 p.m.

Pope Francis is expressing his gratitude to about 400 leaders of the World Meeting of Families, supporters and other volunteers who helped organize his trip to Philadelphia.

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden are among those at the airport sending Francis off as he prepares to board a plane to depart for Rome.

Francis spoke in English as he thanked church leaders and others in Washington and New York for their work to organize his trip there.

Francis said his "days with you have been brief but they have been days of great grace for me and, I pray, for you too."

___

6:00 p.m.

Pope Francis is leaving the parkway where he celebrated Mass for hundreds of thousands of people, on his way to the airport after a 10-day trip to Cuba and the United States.

As he finished Mass, he made a request with a smile: "I ask you to pray for me. Don't forget."

He will meet privately before his flight to Rome with about 400 leaders of the World Meeting of Families, supporters and other volunteers who helped organize his trip to Philadelphia.

As people start leaving the Mass, crews are going around with waste carts emptying filled garbage and recycling cans. Hawkers are selling water, soda and papal merchandise.

Francis said in his homily at the Mass that everyone should be open to miracles of love for the sake of families around the world.

___

5:55 p.m.

Church officials say the next World Meeting of Families will be held in Dublin, Ireland, in 2018.

Ireland is ground zero for the church's clergy sex abuse crisis outside of the United States. The overwhelmingly Catholic country recently legalized gay marriage.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, the Catholic primate for Ireland, says he is delighted to hear the news.

He says Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was in Philadelphia with a delegation from Ireland to hear from Francis directly.

The World Meeting of Families was held in Philadelphia this week and was the original reason that Francis decided to come to the United States.

Francis capped a 10-day trip to Cuba and the United States by celebrating a Mass in front of hundreds of thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia Sunday.

___

5:15 p.m.

Scores of priests, bishops and volunteer Eucharistic ministers are fanning out to administer communion to the throngs of people attending the papal Mass in Philadelphia.

Attendants with white and yellow umbrellas are next to those giving communion so parishioners can see where to navigate in the crowd.

A group of cloistered nuns at the suburban Monastery of St. Clare had put in extra shifts to help prepare for Pope Francis' visit, baking 100,000 communion hosts for the Mass.

Hundreds of thousands of people crammed into the area around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sunday. Tens of thousands more who weren't able to make it through security before the Mass began either gave up and turned around or made their way to watch the event on one of several gigantic video screens dotting the city.

___

4:45 p.m.

Pope Francis says everyone should be open to miracles of love for the sake of families around the world.

His remarks came during the homily of a Mass he is celebrating Sunday in front of hundreds of thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia. The event after a weekend dedicated to families caps a 10-day trip to Cuba and the United States.

He says that happiness and holiness are tied to little gestures, like those done by mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers, and children.

Francis originally came to the United States because of the World Meeting of Families held in Philadelphia this week.

Earlier Sunday, he visited with victims of sexual abuse, spoke to inmates at the city's largest jail, blessed a statue and kissed one baby after another from his Jeep Wrangler popemobile.

___

4 p.m.

Pope Francis has begun celebrating Mass in front of hundreds of thousands of people in the final public event of his U.S. tour.

The Mass Sunday caps Francis' 10-day trip to Cuba, Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

Many reported waiting for hours to pass through security checkpoints to get to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway where the Mass is being held downtown.

Francis exited his popemobile at the foot of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as music by the Philadelphia Orchestra reached a crescendo.

Francis will depart Philadelphia around 8 p.m. to return to Rome.

___

3:30 p.m.

Pope Francis has exited his popemobile to visit a "knot grotto" that is based on one of his favorite paintings and lets visitors acknowledge the challenges in their daily lives.

The installation built next to Philadelphia's Roman Catholic cathedral is inspired by a painting called "Mary, Undoer of Knots" that holds special meaning for the pope.

The artwork shows Mary untangling a long ribbon — a symbol for smoothing life's difficulties.

The painting hangs in a church in Augsburg, Germany, where then-Rev. Jorge Mario Bergoglio saw it while studying in the mid-1980s.

He brought back copies to Argentina, where it became a major source of devotion.

People were invited to write down their own problems on ribbons tied to the grotto. They were also encouraged to help others by loosening and removing a knot already in place.

___

3:15 p.m.

Adoring fans are cheering, clapping and singing as Pope Francis starts the final public event of his 10-day trip to the United States and Cuba.

Francis is traveling in his white Jeep Wrangler popemobile along Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway before celebrating a Mass that is expected to draw up to a million people or more.

Many have reported waiting for several hours to pass through security checkpoints.

An army of about 10,000 volunteers helping out with the Mass includes ushers, guides, choral singers and Eucharistic ministers who will pass out communion.

Earlier Sunday, he visited the largest jail in Philadelphia to speak with inmates and their families

___

3 p.m.

Pope Francis has blessed a new statue honoring the relationship between Catholics and Jews.

Francis stopped at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia on his way back to the city before celebrating Mass in front of a massive crowd Sunday afternoon.

The sculpture was unveiled Friday and commemorates the 50th anniversary of a document that urged stronger relations between the two religions. Francis was joined by his longtime friend, Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka.

Francis is traveling downtown and will transfer to the popemobile for a procession along the parkway to the altar in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Up to a million people or more are expected to crowd into the area for the Mass, and many reported waiting for hours to pass through security checkpoints.

___

2:50 p.m.

Pope Francis is preparing to depart a suburban Philadelphia seminary to make his way via a closed motorcade to the final act on his historic first trip to the United States.

Before celebrating an outdoor Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Francis is scheduled to stop at Saint Joseph's University to bless a new statue honoring the relationship between Catholics and Jews.

He will then travel downtown and transfer to the popemobile for a procession along the parkway to the altar in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Up to a million people or more are expected to crowd into the area for the Mass, and many reported waiting for hours to pass through security checkpoints.

Earlier Sunday, he visited the largest jail in Philadelphia to speak with inmates and their families

___

1:50 p.m.

Tens of thousands of people are enduring hourslong waits to pass through security checkpoints for the papal Mass in downtown Philadelphia.

Lines stretch for several blocks to enter the secure zone on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Most pilgrims took the wait in stride, though some who grew impatient jumped over concrete barriers to get out of line and try their luck at other checkpoints.

Organizers expect 1 million people for the 4 p.m. Mass.

Officials have said the parkway itself can hold only about 250,000. But they say hundreds of thousands more will be able to watch the Mass on gigantic video screens set up on side streets and in other parts of the city.

___

1:15 p.m.

Organizers have begun making adjustments to security checkpoints to ease wait times for people waiting in lines that stretch for several blocks.

One security checkpoint that had been reserved for pilgrims with tickets to the best seats for the papal Mass in downtown Philadelphia has been opened to the general public.

But wait times varied greatly, with some attendees reporting long waits behind thousands of people, while others sailed through different checkpoints.

A family who took the bus from Baltimore Sunday morning said they expected to wait as long as 90 minutes. Fifteen-year-old Matthew Stambaugh shrugged it off, saying, "it's worth it."

The 4 p.m. Mass is expected to draw more than 1 million people.

___

12:50 p.m.

Pope Francis will visit a sculpture dedicated to the 50th anniversary of a document calling for a strong relationship between Catholics and Jews.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Francis will see the sculpture commemorating the Nostra Aetate at Saint Joseph's University on his way back to the city before celebrating Mass in front of a massive crowd Sunday afternoon.

The sculpture was unveiled on Friday at a ceremony that included an address from Rabbi Abraham Skorka. Skorka is a longtime friend of the pope and Argentina's most famous rabbi.

The "Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time" statue was created by Philadelphia-based sculptor Joshua Koffman.

___

Noon

Crowds are forming early on Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway for another papal parade and an outdoor Mass, hours before they are set to begin.

Visitors are already packed in as tight in the front of the viewing section as they were for the start of closing festival Saturday of the World Meeting of Families.

And long backups are occurring at security checkpoints.

It's an early sign that the 4 p.m. Mass is likely to draw the biggest turnout of the pope's U.S. visit.

Philadelphia's mass transit agency reports increased ridership on special papal trains heading into the city. More than 500 buses carrying 26,000 people had arrived by 11 a.m., nearly half of the shuttles organizers expect for the Mass.

Security officials are urging visitors to get to the checkpoints as early as possible to avoid last-minute bottlenecks.

___

11:15 a.m.

After encouraging a group of prisoners to get their lives back on track, Pope Francis walked through the gym at Philadelphia's largest jail and shook the hands of each of the men and women individually.

The 100 inmates in blue uniforms remained in their seats Sunday until two stood up near the end to hug Francis. He also blessed an inmate in a wheelchair.

Francis thanked the inmates at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility for the large wooden chair that they made for him, calling it beautiful.

He has criticized prison systems that only work to punish and humiliate prisoners, and he has denounced life prison terms and isolation as a form of torture.

Francis does not have any other scheduled events before a 4 p.m. Mass that organizers estimate will draw more than 1 million.

___

10:50 a.m.

Pope Francis has invoked the parable of Jesus washing the feet of his apostles as he encouraged a group of prisoners to use their time in jail to get their lives back on track.

Francis said at Philadelphia's largest jail on Sunday that everyone is part of the effort to help the inmates rejoin society.

He has criticized prison systems that only work to punish and humiliate prisoners, and he has denounced life prison terms and isolation as a form of torture.

Francis spoke to the men and women in blue uniforms from in front of a special wooden chair made by inmates.

He said the journey of life means getting dirty feet and that everyone needs to be cleansed.

___

10:30 a.m.

Pope Francis is meeting with 100 inmates in the largest prison in Philadelphia on the final day of his U.S. tour.

Francis is in the gym of the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility and his remarks were being broadcast Sunday to the prison's other 3,000 inmates.

The men and women in blue uniforms are sitting in front of Francis. He is standing in front of a special wooden chair made by inmates at the city's largest jail.

A Philadelphia Archdiocese priest had been jailed there for his handling of priest sexual-abuse complaints, but Monsignor William Lynn was moved to a state prison in northeastern Pennsylvania shortly after the pope's itinerary was announced.

Francis will also meet with members of some prisoners' families and with corrections officers.

___

10:20 a.m.

Advocates for victims of sexual abuse by priests are calling on Pope Francis to take specific steps to address the scandal.

Francis met with victims on Sunday morning and promised to hold accountable those responsible.

Barbara Dorris of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says Francis needs to follow up his "kind words" on protecting young people with action.

She says "words don't protect children. Actions protect children and that has what has been lacking."

BishopAccountability.org says in a statement that "apologies and meetings cannot substitute for reform." The group wants Francis to enact "zero tolerance" for sexual abusers in the priesthood, hold bishops accountable and release the names and case files of thousands of priests who abused children.

___

10:10 a.m.

After speaking to 300 bishops at a seminary outside Philadelphia, Pope Francis is heading back into the city to visit a jail.

Seminarians sang to Francis as he exited St. Charles Borromeo seminary Sunday morning, and he then boarded a helicopter to head to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.

Francis will meet with 100 inmates in the gym and his remarks will be broadcast to the other 3,000 inmates. He will also meet with inmates' families and correctional officers.

It's the final day of his U.S. visit. Francis will have some down time to himself Sunday afternoon, before celebrating Mass on the Benjamin Franklin

__

9:50 a.m.

The Vatican spokesman says Pope Francis met with five victims of sexual abuse: people who were victims of priests, relatives and teachers.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi says the three women and two men met with the pope for a half hour at the St. Charles Borromeo seminary Sunday, the pope's last day in the U.S.

Lombardi says the pope prayed with the survivors, listened to their stories and expressed his closeness in their suffering and his "pain and shame" in the case of those abused by priests.

In a statement, Lombardi says Francis renewed his commitment so that the victims are treated with justice and the guilty are punished.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who heads Francis' sex abuse commission, organized the encounter along with the Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput.

___

9:30 a.m.

On his final day in the U.S., Pope Francis has lamented the legalization of gay marriage, but he also urged America's bishops to redirect their energies away from complaining.

He told 300 bishops at a seminary outside Philadelphia that a church that only explains its doctrine is "dangerously unbalanced."

The U.S. bishops have repeatedly decried the acceptance of same-sex relationships, calling the legalization of gay marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court three months ago "a tragic error" and a "profoundly immoral and unjust" decision.

Francis also decried a world in which people are always chasing the latest trend and treat matters of faith and relationships as if they were mere products in a supermarket.

Francis will travel to a prison later Sunday and celebrate Mass in front of hundreds of thousands.

___

9:15 a.m.

Pope Francis has met with survivors of clerical sex abuse and has promised to hold accountable those responsible.

Francis announced that he had met with a group Sunday, his final day in the United States.

Speaking to U.S. bishops, Francis said sexual abuse can no longer be kept a secret. He says he promised to "zealously" protect young people and that "all those responsible are held accountable."

Francis has decided to create a new Vatican tribunal to prosecute bishops who failed to protect their flock by covering up for pedophile priests rather than reporting them to police.

___

9 a.m.

Pope Francis is greeting seminarians on his way to a chapel where he will address bishops from around the world.

Francis is speaking to about 300 bishops and others Sunday in a chapel at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Lower Merion, just across the border from the city.

The pope stayed the night at the seminary after spending Saturday in Philadelphia on the final weekend of his trip to the U.S.

Pope John Paul II visited the seminary in 1979. It has also welcomed Mother Teresa and three cardinals who later became pope, including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI.

Francis will travel to a prison in Philadelphia later Sunday morning and then celebrate Mass in front of a crowd estimated at more than 1 million Sunday afternoon.

___

8:25 a.m.

From across the country and around the world faithful Catholics are gathering for the final day of Pope Francis' first visit to the United States.

Pilgrims are packing subway cars and lugging bags and portable chairs as they make their way to Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where Francis will celebrate an afternoon Mass that could draw a million people or more.

Before the Mass, Francis is scheduled to visit a Philadelphia prison where he will speak with inmates, members of their families and corrections officers.

On Saturday, Francis spoke on religious freedom and immigration at Independence Hall and attended a festival with musical performances from Andrea Bocelli, Aretha Franklin and others for the World Meeting of Families.