Pope Francis crowns New York visit with public mass
Pope Francis has capped a packed tour of New York by celebrating mass at Madison Square Garden (MSG), after greeting crowds in Central Park and praying for world peace at the 9/11 Memorial.
About 20,000 people packed into MSG, the home of the Knicks basketball team, to take communion in the presence of the 78-year-old pontiff.
The city’s premier concert venue, originally booked Friday by Billy Joel, was lit up by the singer’s own crew who turned it into a serene and beautiful venue for Catholics to celebrate mass.
Once again, the hugely popular pope focused on society’s most vulnerable during his last public remarks in the country’s financial capital, a city of extreme wealth and poverty.
He praised big cities for their diversity but called on worshippers not to forget “the faces of all those people who don’t appear to belong, or are second-class citizens.”
“They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly.”
It marked his last public engagement in New York before he leaves for Philadelphia, where he is set to greet more huge crowds at the Festival of Families, which takes place every three years.
Earlier on Friday, the pope led a gathering of 700 at Ground Zero, where he paid tribute to the nearly 3,000 who died and those who were first in line responding to the September 11 attacks.
The head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics led a multi-faith prayer for world peace bringing together Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Greek Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish leaders.
“In this place of pain and remembrance I am full of hope,” said the Argentine pope.
“I hope our presence here sends a powerful sign of our wish to share and reaffirm the wish to be forces of reconciliation, forces of peace, of justice.”