Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pope Speaks from the Heart about Importance of Families

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pope Speaks from the Heart about Importance of Families

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA - After more than a year of preparations and lockdown security for one of the most highly scripted events in memory, Pope Francis tossed the script.

The pontiff spoke to his largest live American audience yet Saturday night, reaching hundreds of thousands along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at the Festival of Families. This was already after a full day of speeches and a grand Mass at the cathedral in this city, where he arrived from New York by air early in the morning for the fifth day of a grueling six-day U.S. trip.

This was the anchor event that had drawn Francis to America in the first place - a festival of testimony, comedy and song to cap the World Meeting of Families, an international Catholic conference.

Francis had prepared a text that deftly slid past hot-button controversies over the family, such as same-sex marriage, and instead focused on the intense threat to families based on poverty.

But something changed. It may have been the music - gospel singer and preacher's kid Aretha Franklin and her spectacularly soulful riff on "Amazing Grace." Or other classical performances and hymnody.

But when the pontiff came to the podium, despite whatever strain his breakneck itinerary may be placing on his 78-year-old body with a partial lung, he gestured animatedly and spoke forcefully.

And he embedded a sophisticated lesson in trinitarian theology into basic aphorisms, and a few jokes.

Thanking the artists for having "gladdened us with your art," the Spanish-speaking pontiff went on to say through an interpreter that "beauty leads us to God."

He continued: "And the truth takes us to God, because God also is truth." And these make "us good persons because God is goodness. ... All that is beautiful leads us to God."

He recalled a child asked him once what God was doing before the creation of the world, and he concluded: "Before creating the world, God loved, because God is love. …

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