The Pope made his way through the streets of Philadelphia in the popemobile, before arriving to the city's Independence National Historic Park, where he met with a group of immigrant families.
First in line was the Lopez family, representing Hispanic families who now live in the U.S. They gave the Pope a few gifts and one in particular, from a young girl, made the Pope smile.
"Maite, give him the doll
"It's for me? It doesn't really look like you.”
The family also gave the Pope an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe made by nuns. The Pope then greeted two other families, before making his way into the building where the nation's declaration of independence was signed.
"Long live the Pope”
"We love you Holy Father.”
The enthusiasm was evident. In his speech Pope Francis made reference to the great liberties that came with the Declaration of Independence. Rights such as the abolition of slavery and the right to vote. He then emphasized the importance of religious liberty.
"Religious liberty, by its very nature, transcends places of worship and the private sphere of individuals and families. Religious acts and religious dimensions are not part of a sub-culture. Rather, they are part of the culture of cultures and communities.”
For religion, he explained is about expanding one's horizon while promoting the dignity and human rights of all people. He then highlighted the mission all believers have in a society where religious liberty is being limited or used as a tool for hate.
"It is imperative that the followers of various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.”
The Pope then made reference to immigration in the U.S, which has been a controversial issue for decades.
"Do not be discouraged by whatever challenges and hardships you face. I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to your new nation. You should never be ashamed of your traditions. Do not forget the lessons you learned from your elders, which are something you can bring to enrich the life of this American land.”
Some of those traditions, said the Pope, include keeping one's faith alive and one's family values. He called on the crowd to never forget the liberties they enjoy, including the importance of religious liberty. Governments, he added, are there to protect those rights and liberties, not to limit them.
The Pope delivered his speech in Spanish, but he ended the gathering by praying the Our Father in English followed by his papal blessing.