The first stop during the Pope's visit to New York was St. Patrick's Cathedral. He presided over Vespers with priests and religious.
He first offered words of affection and closeness for the Muslims who were killed during a tragic stampede in Mecca. More than 700 are believed to have died.
His second message was one of gratitude. He thanked the American Catholics who stood by the Church, despite the sexual abuse scandal that shook the Church in recent years.
"You suffered greatly in the not distant past by having to bear the shame of some of your brothers who harmed and scandalized the Church in the most vulnerable of her members...I accompany you at this time of pain and difficulty.”
Giving thanks to the religious for their sacrifice, he asked them to not forget strength of their vocation. He told them not to turn off their love for God.
The Pope also wanted to send a more concrete message of support to specific audience: female religious. In 2008, the Vatican began a review of 341 female religious orders after complaints from some North American priests and bishops.
Last December, the Vatican announced the conclusions of the examination: It included a list of suggestions and, overall, was very positive in its message.
"In a special way I would like to express my esteem and gratitude to the religious women of the United States. What would the Church be without you? Women of strength, fighters, with that spirit of courage which puts you in the front lines in the proclamation of the Gospel. To you, religious women, sisters and mothers of this people, I wish to say 'thank you,' a big thank you…and to tell you that I love you very much.”
That's how Pope Francis concluded his visit to the cathedral: By addressing one of the most pressing issues in the American Church.