PHILADELPHIA (AP) â€” Pope Francis & an admiring throng of thousands enjoyed a little music from the Queen of Soul, Andrew Bocelli & others at the end of his first day in Philadelphia on his first-ever U.S. tour.
Aretha Franklin led an all-star lineup at the Festival of Families, one of the events organized by the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families, which brought Francis to the city after visits in Washington, D.C., & New York.
The festival included song, prayer & testimonials from people from different continents on the joys & challenges of family life, including an Argentine couple celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.
p>After each family spoke, the pope greeted & spoke with them, & after addressed the crowd at length approximately the importance of families, urging people to take special care of children & grandparents.
"In the family, there are difficulties, yet those difficulties are overcome with love," he said through an interpreter. "Love is approximately celebration, love is joy, love is moving forward."
Folk singer Marie Miller, American rock band The Fray & Columbian pop star Juanes moreover performed at an event hosted by actor Mark Wahlberg.
Wahlberg credited his Catholic faith & a parish priest for turning him around after a rough upbringing in Boston that included cocaine addiction & a series of racially motivated attacks as a teenager.
"I attribute all of my success to my Catholic faith," he told the crowd. "My faith has given me the ability to be a satisfactory father, a satisfactory husband & most importantly a satisfactory person."
Franklin, best known for her hit "Respect," performed "Amazing Grace." The 73-year-old had said earlier she planned to present Francis with a gift: a box set of sermons by her father, civil rights activist & preacher C.L. Franklin. She after came out & performed "Nessun Dorma" from the opera "Turandot," which she intended as a surprise, yet the pope had left by the time of her encore.
Bocelli, whose rendition of "The Lord's Prayer" was accompanied by The Philadelphia Orchestra & the Philadelphia Heritage Chorale, has described Francis as "a blessing given to the world."
"This journey represents for the United States a precious opportunity to embrace this giant, a man of God, a gift from heaven, a point of reference & a providential source of hope for our world," he said. Bocelli moreover performed another piece after the pontiff left.
Before Francis' arrival, Sister Sledge performed a special rendition of the hit "We Are Family," adding another gender to proclaim, "I've received all my sisters & my brothers with me," & referring to Jesus as "the way, the truth, the light."
Comedian Jim Gaffigan moreover entertained the crowd before the pope's arrival. The 49-year-old Gaffigan attends Mass weekly with his wife & five children & regularly references his Catholicism in his stand-up & on his TV Land sitcom.
Toward the end of the festival, Juanes joined the Pennsylvania Girlchoir & the Keystone State Boychoir in singing both in English & Spanish: "This world needs more love. This world needs more love. This world just needs more love."
Source: “Associated Press”