Following Francis: Sunday

This story appears in the Francis in the United States feature series. View the full series.

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Following Francis: Come with NCR as we follow Pope Francis throughout his trip to the USA. Come here to read reports from our reporters in the field. Editor's note: NCR will be tracking reception to Pope Francis' visit to the United States. Check back at this post throughout the day as it is updated with the latest reactions.

As he departs, Francis wishes 'Would that all of us could be open to miracles of love'

Philadelphia -- Pope Francis ended his exhaustive six-day, three-city tour of the U.S. Sunday with a strong exhortation to American Catholics to be unafraid of trying new things, even if they seem to threaten long-practiced traditions or existing church structures.

In a homily to hundreds of thousands at an outdoor Mass packing Philadelphia's iconic Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Francis said that Jesus' disciples were also afraid of new things -- but that Jesus broke down all barriers to allow the Spirit to do its work.

Read more: Francis' last message to America: Don't be afraid of new things!

Last message to America is first message to next month's synod

About Francis' homily at his last Mass on the three-city, six-day trip, Michael Sean Winters, NCR's Washington columnists, says "Pope Francis may have been preaching to the hundreds of thousands filling the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, but his words were directed to the participants in the upcoming synod, which begins next weekend."

Read more: Pope Francis' Closing Homily

Read the pope's words on abuse

NCR posted to its website English translations of Pope Francis' talk with survivors of abuse and their families and the statement he gave to the bishops gathered for the World Meeting of Families.

Read more: Pope’s remarks Sunday on sexual abuse

' He was engaged.'

NCR columnist Michael Sean Winters, said of the prison visit: More important than the words, although the words were beautiful, what most strikes me today about the Holy Father's meeting with prisoners in Philadelphia was the look of compassion and genuine interest on his face as he walked along the rows on inmates, bending down to shake their hands.

Read more: Pope Francis at the Prison

Holy father was in his element with prisoners

Pope Francis spent about an hour at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. He entered the gymnasium from behind a blue curtain, walking up on to the small stage and carefully inspecting the large chair the inmates had made for him. He turned, with a big smile across his face, and gave the inmates a sincere Pope Francis thumbs up.

Read more: Visiting prison, pope says all people need forgiveness, cleansing

Francis gives bishops marching orders on families

Speaking to world's bishops. Despite dismal facts about the decline of the family and cultural trends that show more and more youth delaying marriage or avoiding and disposing of meaningful relationships, Pope Francis remains optimistic about families and offers a blunt, counter-message of hope.

“The family is not first and foremost a cause for concern. But rather,” he said, “the joyous confirmation of God’s blessing upon the masterpiece of creation.”

Read more: Francis' pastoral plan for families: gratitude over concerns, appreciation over complaints

Comment: This pope has implemented 'actual change'

About Francis meeting with victims of abuse, Michael Sean Winters, NCR's Washington columnists, says "I hope that those who were complaining about his earlier remarks on the subject, to the bishops on Wednesday and the clergy on Thursday, now recognize that, of course he was going to wait until he got to Philadelphia to meet with the victims because Philadelphia, unlike Washington and New York, experienced the full brunt of the crisis."

Read more: Pope Francis' Comments on Clergy Sex Abuse

Pontiff met with the survivors as a group, then one-by-one

Philadelphia -- For only the second time in his two-and-a-half year papacy, Pope Francis has met with survivors of clergy sexual abuse during his trip to the U.S. and has told them he is "profoundly sorry" for their suffering.

The Vatican announced the meeting in a brief press bulletin Sunday, saying Francis had met with five survivors of abuse that morning while staying at the St. Charles Borromeo seminary in Philadelphia.

Read more: For only second time, Francis meets abuse survivors, says 'God weeps'

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