Pope Francis captivated a New York venue that more commonly showcases rock stars and pro athletes than religious leaders.
He road around the floor of Madison Square Garden in a golf cart, to gleeful screams from the crowd, before celebrating Mass at the arena.
After a day of speaking to the powerful and mingling with the poor in Washington, Pope Francis is leaving the city for New York.
Francis made a last round of greetings and selfies with Washington-area students, pausing to pat a little girl’s face and touch boys’ heads as he made his way to the black Fiat carrying him to Andrews Air Force Base.
He will fly to Kennedy Airport, where his greeting party includes Cardinal Timothy Dolan and 200 indigent people.
Francis’ plans Thursday evening include a motorcade along Fifth Avenue and a vespers service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
He speaks to the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, visits the 9/11 Memorial and goes to Madison Square Garden for a Mass with thousands of people.
Then it’s on to Philadelphia for the weekend.
Pope Francis is en route to Manhattan by helicopter after arriving at New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport.
As he boarded the military helicopter, he gave a final wave to the invited crowd of 200 that had gathered to greet him when he flew in from Washington.
The pope dispensed Mass cards, handshakes and some hugs to the cheering onlookers.
Francis is flying to the Downtown Manhattan Heliport near Wall Street in the helicopter, built by Sikorsky Aircraft.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is aboard. The two are headed to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for evening prayers.
Pope Francis has arrived in Manhattan by helicopter and hopped into a Fiat hatchback, traveling in the same modest style as he did in Washington.
The military helicopter touched down at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport near Wall Street after a short flight from John F. Kennedy Airport. He landed there after flying in from Washington.
Francis is headed to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for evening prayers in a charcoal gray, four-door Fiat 500L with a yellow papal flag on the hood.
The pope has eschewed limousines on his U.S. trip in favor of far smaller, Italian-made Fiats.
In general, he has made a point of traveling in modest cars, as part of his emphasis on simplicity and rejecting consumerism.
Thousands of New Yorkers are getting their first glimpse of Pope Francis as he rides to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in his open-sided Jeep popemobile.
The crowd screamed with excitement as the pope drew up to the vehicle in a Fiat, waved and began a roughly five-block motorcade down Fifth Avenue to the cathedral, flanked by police vehicles with flashing lights.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is riding with him as they head to the cathedral for evening prayers.
Onlookers carried Vatican flags, rosaries and hopes of seeing the pontiff.
Max Barreto came from Santa Barbara, California, with four members of his Catholic youth group just to catch sight of the pope. The 22-year-old says just “seeing him and feeling his presence” makes the long trip worthwhile.
Pope Francis is praying vespers — the formal term for evening prayers — at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Members of the clergy and religious orders have filled the grand, gothic-style cathedral for the service.
As Francis made his way down the long central aisle to the altar, he occasionally stopped to greet people in the pews, including a a girl in a wheelchair and a mother holding a baby.
The girl wiped at her eyes, as if to whisk away tears, after he blessed her.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sen. Charles Schumer and other elected officials are attending the service.
Pope Francis has expressed his solidarity with Muslims following the hajj stampede in Saudi Arabia, where more than 700 people were killed.
Francis opened his visit to New York by offering a prayer for the victims from the altar of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Francis said he wanted to offer a “sentiment of closeness in light of the tragedy” that the Muslim people had suffered on Thursday.
The pope has again raised the clergy sex-abuse crisis, by consoling clergy for the suffering the scandal had caused them.
Francis told members of religious orders and diocesan priests on Thursday that he was aware they had “suffered greatly” by having to “bear the shame” of clergy who had molested children. He thanked them for their faithful service to the church in the face of the scandal.
The pope made the comments at a prayer service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. He made similar comments in an address to bishops Wednesday in Washington, praising them for what he called their “generous commitment” to helping victims.
The comments have angered advocates for victims, who say American bishops only took decisive action to stop perpetrators when lawsuits and government investigations revealed documents that showed the scope of the problem. The abuse crisis erupted in 2002 with the case of one pedophile priest in the Archdiocese of Boston, then spread across the country and overseas.
A Vatican spokesman defended the pope’s remarks, saying it was appropriate to recognize the bishops’ extensive reforms over more than a decade in response to the scandal.
Pope Francis has left St. Patrick’s Cathedral after consoling priests for having to “bear the shame” of the clergy sex-abuse scandal, thanking America’s nuns and offering a prayer for Muslims killed in the hajj stampede in Saudi Arabia.
The pope’s remarks — his first in New York City — came during evening prayers at the cathedral.
The pontiff gradually made his way out, shaking hands with nuns and others, blessing a girl and a boy who was passed through the crowd by his father. Then he got in his Fiat, waved to the crowds still gathered outside and drove off.
As Francis rests ahead of a packed day, he’s expected to stay at the home of the Vatican’s ambassador to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito Auza.
The pope’s schedule Friday includes addressing world leaders at the United Nations, participating in an interfaith service at the Sept. 11 memorial museum, visiting a school and taking a processional drive through Central Park. He will celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden.
While Pope Francis’ remarks at a prayer service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral were reflections on the life of the church, plenty of those involved in the workings of the state were on hand for his first stop in New York City.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (KWOH’-moh), Mayor Bill de Blasio (dih BLAH’-zee-oh), and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (SHOO’-mur) were among them.
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump wasn’t at the service but watched from a balcony in nearby Trump Tower as the pontiff’s motorcade drove by.
The priest who gave Pope Francis a blessing before the first-ever papal address to Congress had no expectation he would even be asked.
That’s according to the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. He says the Rev. Patrick Conroy was excited just to meet the pope and didn’t anticipate that Francis would ask him for his blessing.
Conroy is the Catholic chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives. He placed his hands on Francis’ head, which was bowed in prayer.
Francis often asks other clergy to bless him and constantly asks the faithful to pray for him.
Nuns who heard Pope Francis’ strong message of support and thanks for their work are exuberant about his praise, which comes after a trying time for U.S. religious sisters.
Sister Gertrude Lily of the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary says she’s “very grateful for him recognizing that we, too, are disciples of the Lord.”
Speaking at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Francis described nuns as “women of strength” and “fighters” who had a “spirit of courage” as they served at the forefront of the church.
His words held enormous significance for U.S. sisters. They had been the subject of Vatican investigations under his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican offices that guard orthodoxy had accused the group of straying broadly from church teaching. The nuns denied it.
Sister Mary Alice Kizita Otoo of the Handmaids of the Divine Redeemer of Accra also was at St. Patrick’s to hear the pope speak. She says nuns appreciate that the pope is talking about their good works, and he has inspired her “to yearn to be there more for the poor.”
The Vatican spokesman has denied claims by advocates for victims that the pope has given short shrift to their suffering in his remarks on the clergy sex-abuse crisis.
The Rev. Federico Lombardi says Pope Francis has acknowledged victims by referring to children as the most vulnerable members of the church and speaking of child molestation as a crime.
Lombardi also noted Thursday that the pope has three more days of public events in the U.S., suggesting that further comments are ahead.
In two separate speeches, the pope has commended U.S. bishops for their response to victims and said he understood clergy had “suffered greatly” because of the shame from the scandal.
The crisis erupted in 2002 in the Archdiocese of Boston, then spread across the country and overseas.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (KWOH’-moh) and his longtime partner, celebrity chef Sandra Lee, had a few moments with the pope after the prayer service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
An aide to the governor says Pope Francis bestowed a blessing on Lee, who recently announced she is cancer free after a double mastectomy.
The aide says Cuomo also asked the pope to pray for his late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
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