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  • Pope Francis Offers Comfort, Peace To 9/11 Victims’ Families

    Pope Francis affirmed the need for all to become “prophets of peace” at New York’s 9/11 Memorial Friday, amid an interfaith prayer service on the site.

    Speaking in front of an underground retaining wall, one of the only surviving elements of the original World Trade Center, the pope recounted the meeting he had had with relatives of the 2001 attack’s first responders just moments earlier.

    “Meeting them made me see once again how acts of destruction are never impersonal, abstract or merely material,” he said. “They always have a face, a concrete story, names.”

    Throughout his visit to the U.S., Francis has emphasized the value of the individual human person among unimaginably large acts of violence, social policies and political movements. Just before visiting the 9/11 Memorial, he spoke to the U.N. General Assembly, where he reminded the world’s leaders that in addressing today’s most pressing concerns they “are dealing with real men and women who live, struggle and suffer.” (RELATED: Pope Praises UN On Climate, Poverty — But Warns Against Mere Bureaucracy)

    The prayer service highlighted participating religious leaders in their roles as representatives of New York City’s diverse communities. A rabbi and an imam embraced as they spoke on behalf of their respective communities and read from scripture.

    Francis also said that the memorial, and the testament of the families’ grief, represented to him “the power of love and remembrance,” and served as a reminder of “the heroic goodness which people are capable of” in New York, a city “which might seem impersonal, faceless, lonely.” His words echoed advice he gave New York priests and nuns Thursday, where he hailed the twin spirits of “gratitude” and “hard work” in living a Christian vocation. (RELATED: Pope Francis Praises New York’s Nuns, Calls Clergy Abuse A ‘Tribulation’)

    Continuing his theme of the dignity of the individual human, Francis will meet with children at a Catholic school later Friday, before celebrating a mass at Madison Square Garden. He will spend the weekend at Philadelphia’s World Meeting of Families, a global convention that promotes Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality.

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