His final destination was the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. But before he got there, and before he even arrived in the United States, Pope Francis made family life one of the central messages of his latest papal trip.
During a meeting with Cuban families, he explained that the family is where people learn to be selfless.
"When one doesn't live as a family, one will strengthen the part that always says: I, me, my, with me, for me. One totally centers around these things and doesn't know solidarity or fraternity.”
While in Cuba, he also blessed pregnant women and their babies.
"All, touch your stomach and I give you a blessing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I wish for all the babies to be born in good health, for them to all grow up well. Women, raise them well and caress your stomach, as you are carrying hope.”
These lines were just the beginning of what would come. Thousands of families from throughout the world gathered in Philadelphia for the 8th World Meeting of Families.
The Pope presided over this vigil, in which he improvised his speech to remind families they are "factories of hope.”
"The family is, forgive me, it is a factory of hope, of life, of resurrection. God was the one who opened that path.”
He joked that sometimes family life is bittersweet. But with difficult moments also comes great happiness.
4. CROSS AND RESURRECTION
"In families, children bring headaches. I won’t speak about mother in laws. But in families, there is always a Cross. Always. Because of the love of God, the Son of God opened up that way. But also in families, after the Cross there is Resurrection.”
To conclude the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis celebrated a Mass with nearly one million attendees. He recounted to families the importance of everyday gestures.
"Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work.”
He also praised the infinite generosity that parents have for their children. He asked families and every individual person to open themselves up to authentic love.
"We renew our faith in the word of the Lord which invites faithful families to this openness. It invites all those who want to share the prophecy of the covenant of man and woman, which generates life and reveals God!”
And he gave them this advice: think critically about how they speak to one another when they're at home.
"I leave you with this question, for each one of you to respond to. In my home, do we yell, or do we speak with love and tenderness? This is a good way to recognize our love.”
At the end of the event, it was announced that the next World Meeting of Families would take place in Dublin, Ireland in 2018. It will be the ninth time it has been celebrated since 1994, when Pope John Paul II launched the first event in Rome.