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Pope Francis' address at Independence Mall focused on unity and immigration

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Pope Francis' address at Independence Mall focused on immigration and globalization. He spoke not only of the positives of each topic, but also the negatives. He made it clear that diversity can bring greater things to communities and America as a whole. Community, individuals and the importance of breaking down walls within our hearts were the pope's main points.

PHILADELPHIA, PA (Catholic Online) - As the Pope's motorcade arrived, the crowd broke out into several bursts of applause and excited cries. The popemobile stopped to allow the pontiff to kiss the heads of a few babies held above the crows and to greet his admirers. 

45,000 people waited for the pope's arrival at Independence Mall with several thousands more screaming, whistling and cheering as the popemobile passed them by.

Greater cheers broke out from the crowd at Independence Mall as the Pope arrived and kissed more babies and smiled into the excited crowd. 

Pope Francis' poemobile swung around the back of Independence Hall to enter through the usual tourist entrance. 

Monsignor Mark Miles is Pope Francis' official translator and together they entered Independence Hall. He blessed the Encuentros cross, which symbolized Hispanic solidarity and will be included in several ceremonies later this year by the Latin community. Children presented the pope with a small colorful doll as a gift and he also received a cloth featuring the Virgin Mary. Everyone greeted him in Spanish.

Hushed voices could be heard as everyone focused on the front doors of Independence Hall. USCCB announcers speculated the pontiff was taking a moment to explore the room America's forefathers stood to sign the Declaration of Independence as the waiting crowd slowly began to grow impatient. Several muffled chants could be heard in the background as drums began to beat and Pops Fanfare of the Common Man began to play. 

Pope Francis emerged to the sound of woots and whistles. Several members in the crowd waved their hands and competed for the pontiff's attention.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan stood to welcome Pope Francis and the crowd. He introduced Alexander Hamilton, one of America's founding fathers, and described, "The lesson in his life is simple" no single group . a country where a person who comes from nowhere can still make a difference . He reminds us that immigrants from around the world renew this country with every generation. They breathe new life in what Washington called the 'bosom of America.'

"When it comes to immigration, the church reminds us that in the end, all of us are children of the same loving God. That makes us brothers and sisters despite the borders separating us. We need to be careful from erecting those same borders in our hearts."

Dolan then welcomed Pope Francis to the pulpit.

"Dear friends, good afternoon. One of the highlights of my visit is to be here at Independence Mall, the birthplace of the United States of America. It was here that the freedoms, which define this country, were first proclaimed. The Dec. of in. which stated that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights and that governments exist to protect and defend those rights.

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"These ringing words continue to inspire us today, even as they have inspired peoples throughout the world to fight for the freedom to live in accordance with their dignity. But history also shows that these, or any truths, must constantly be reaffirmed, re-appropriated, and defended. The history of this nation is also the tale of a constant effort lasting to our day to embodying those lofty principals in social and political life.

"We remember the great struggles which led to the abolition of slavery, the extension of voting rights, the growth of the labor movement and the gradual effort to eliminate every kind of racism and prejudice directed toward the successive waves of new Americans.

"This shows that when a country is determined to remain true to its founding principals, those principals that were foundational and based on respect for human dignity, that country is strengthened and renewed when that country keeps in its memory and remembers its past it continues to grow and continues to take into its bosom new peoples.

"All of us benefit a great deal from remembering in our past a people which remembers does not repeat past errors, instead, instead it looks with confidence to the challenges to the present and the future. Remembrance saves a people's soul from whatever, for whomever would attempt to dominate it or use it for their interests. 

"When individuals and communities are guaranteed the effective exercise of their rights, not only are they free to realize their own potential, but they also can with this, and with their work, contribute to their welfare and enrichment to all society.

"In this place, which is symbolic of the American way of the model of the United States, I would like to reflect with you to the right to religious freedom.

"It is a fundamental right, which shapes the way we interact socially and personally with our neighbors, whose religious views differ from our own. The ideal of interreligious dialogue, where all men and women have different religious traditions, may dialogue without fighting each other. That is what religious freedom gives us.

"Religious freedom certainly means the right to worship God, individually and in community as our own conscience dictates, but on the other hand, religious liberty, by its nature, transcends places of worship and the private sphere of individuals and families.

"Because the religious dimension is not a side culture, it is a part of any society and any nation. 
"Our various religious traditions serves society primarily by the message they proclaim. They call individuals and communities to worship God, the source of all life, liberty, and happiness. They remind us of the transcended dimension of human existence and of our irreducible freedom and every claim to absolute power. We need but look at history and it's good for us to look at history, especially the history of this last century to see the atrocities perpetrated by the systems that claim to build one another earthly paradise by dominating peoples by apparently indisputable principals .

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"Our rich religious traditions seek to earn meaning and direction. They have an enduring power to open new horizons, always to stimulate thought, to expand the the mind and heart. They call to conversion, reconciliation, concern for the future of society, to self-sacrifice in the service of the common good and compassion for those in need. At the heart of their spiritual mission is the proclamation of the truth and human dignity of the human person and of all human rights.

"Our religious traditions remind us that as human beings we are called to acknowledge another who reveals our relational identity in the face of every effort to impose a uniformity to which the egotism of the powerful, the conformism of the weak, or the ideology of the Utopian would seek to impose on us. In a world where various forms of modern tyranny seek to suppress religious freedom or as I've said already, try to reduce it to a subculture without right to a voice or vote in the public square, or to use religion as a pretext for hatred and brutality, it is imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, for tolerance, and respect for the dignity and rights of others.

"We live in a time subject to the globalization of the technocratic paradigm, which consciously aims at a one-dimensional uniformity and seeks to eliminate all differences and religions in a superficial quest for uniformity.  The religions thus have the right and duty to make clear it is possible to build a society where a healthy pluralism -which truly respects differences and values them as such- is a precious ally in commitment to defending human dignity and a path to peace in our troubled world, in our world so harmed by war.

"The Quakers, who founded Philadelphia were inspired by a profound evangelical sense of the dignity of each individual as well as by the ideal of a community united by brotherly love. This conviction led them to found a colony which would be a haven of religious freedom and tolerance. That sense of fraternal concern for the dignity of all, especially the weak and the vulnerable, became an essential part of the American spirit.

"During his visit to the United States in 1987, St. John Paul II paid moving homage to this, reminding all Americans that 'the ultimate test of their greatness was the way that every human being would be treated, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones.'

"I take this opportunity to thank all those who, whatever their religion, have sought to serve God, Have sought to serve the god of peace by building cities of brotherly love, by caring for neighbors in need, by defending the dignity of God's gift of life in all its stages, by defending the cause of the poor and the immigrant. Too often those most in need everywhere are unable to be heard. You are their voice and many of you men and women religious have made their cry heard.

 In this witness which frequently encounters powerful resistance, you remind American about the democracy for which it was founded and you remind us that society is weakened wherever and whenever any injustice prevails.

"A few moments ago I spoke of the tendency towards globalization. Globalization in and of itself is not bad, on the contrary, the globalizing tendency is good, it brings us together, but what may be bad is the way this happens. If globalization would seek to make everyone the same as if it were a single sphere, that globalization destroys the richness and, particularity, the individuality of every person and all the people. 

"If globalization seeks to bring all of us together -but to do so respecting each person, each individual person's richness and peculiarity- respecting all peoples and their own distinctives, that globalization Is good and leads to peace.

"I like to use geometry here, if globalization is a sphere where each point is equidistant from the center, then it isn't good because it annuls each of us; but if globalization joins us as a polyhedron where each of us conserves his or her identity then it is good to all men and grants their rights.
"There are, among us today, members of America's large Hispanic population as well as representatives of recent immigrants to the United States. Thank you for opening this door. Many of you have emigrated and I greet you with particular affection. Many of you have immigrated to this country at great personal cost but at the hope of building a new life.

"Do not be discouraged by whatever challenges and hardships you face, I ask you not to forget, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to this nation. Please don't ever be ashamed of your traditions. Do not forget the lessons you learn from your elders, which are something that may enrich the life of this American land. I repeat: Do not be ashamed of that which is a part of your life-blood. You are also called to be responsible citizens. 

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"You are called to be responsible citizens and to contribute as those who came before did so. To contribute fruitfully to the lives in the communities to which you live. I think particular to the vibrant faith, which so many of you possess, the deep sense of family life and all those other values you have inherited. By contributing your gifts, you will not only find your place here, you will help also to renew society from within. 

"Do not forget what happened here, more than two centuries ago. Do not forget that declaration that proclaimed that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator of certain inalienable rights and that governments exist to protect and defend these rights. Dear friends, I thank you for your warm welcome and for joining me here today. Let us keep and care for freedom, the freedom of conscience, religious liberty, each individual, each family, each peoples own liberty which is what gives us our rights. 

"May this country and each of you be renewed in gratitude for the many blessings and freedoms you enjoy and may you defend these rights, especially religious freedom, given to you by God. May he bless you all and I ask you, please pray for me a little bit too. Thank you."

Pope Francis closed the address by leading the masses with the Lord's Prayer. The Liberty Bell rang as the pontiff departed and the crowd released their applause, cheers and whistles.

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