Pope Francis’ final day in US

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PHILADELPHIA — Pope Francis is capping his whirlwind visit to the United States in a fitting way — Mass for the masses on Philadelphia’s grandest boulevard.

The 78-year-old “people’s pope,” who seems to feed off the energy of the crowds, is expected to see the largest of his six-day tour on Sunday when he celebrates an outdoor Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

It’s the culminating event of a Vatican-sponsored conference on the family that drew the wildly popular pontiff to Philadelphia.

The pope begins his day by speaking to bishops from around the world. He’ll also visit inmates at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, Philadelphia’s largest jail.

Francis, who also visited Washington, D.C., and New York during his first-ever trip to the United States, flies back to Rome on Sunday night.

Francis offered warm and affectionate words on his arrival in Philadelphia but is also warning that religious freedom is under threat.

Nevertheless, Francis stayed away from the U.S. domestic culture wars by not mentioning gay marriage, abortion or government-mandated birth control coverage. Francis spoke, instead, in more global terms about forces using “religion as a pretext for hatred and brutality.”


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