Pope kicks off final day in United States

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WYNNEWOOD, Pa. (AP) — Latest developments in Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. All times local:

10:20 a.m.

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Advocates for victims of sexual abuse by priests are calling on Pope Francis to take specific steps to address the scandal.

Francis met with victims on Sunday morning and promised to hold accountable those responsible.

Barbara Dorris of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says Francis needs to follow up his “kind words” on protecting young people with action.


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She says “words don’t protect children. Actions protect children and that has what has been lacking.”

BishopAccountability.org says in a statement that “apologies and meetings cannot substitute for reform.” The group wants Francis to enact “zero tolerance” for sexual abusers in the priesthood, hold bishops accountable and release the names and case files of thousands of priests who abused children.

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9:50 a.m.

The Vatican spokesman says Pope Francis met with five victims of sexual abuse: people who were victims of priests, relatives and teachers.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi says the three women and two men met with the pope for a half hour at the St. Charles Borromeo seminary Sunday, the pope’s last day in the U.S.

Lombardi says the pope prayed with the survivors, listened to their stories and expressed his closeness in their suffering and his “pain and shame” in the case of those abused by priests.

In a statement, Lombardi says Francis renewed his commitment so that the victims are treated with justice and the guilty are punished.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who heads Francis’ sex abuse commission, organized the encounter along with the Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput.

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9:30 a.m.

On his final day in the U.S., Pope Francis has lamented the legalization of gay marriage, but he also urged America’s bishops to redirect their energies away from complaining.

He told 300 bishops at a seminary outside Philadelphia that a church that only explains its doctrine is “dangerously unbalanced.”

The U.S. bishops have repeatedly decried the acceptance of same-sex relationships, calling the legalization of gay marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court three months ago “a tragic error” and a “profoundly immoral and unjust” decision.

Francis also decried a world in which people are always chasing the latest trend and treat matters of faith and relationships as if they were mere products in a supermarket.

Francis will travel to a prison later Sunday and celebrate Mass in front of hundreds of thousands.

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9:15 a.m.

Pope Francis has met with survivors of clerical sex abuse and has promised to hold accountable those responsible.

Francis announced that he had met with a group Sunday, his final day in the United States.

Speaking to U.S. bishops, Francis said sexual abuse can no longer be kept a secret. He says he promised to “zealously” protect young people and that “all those responsible are held accountable.”

Francis has decided to create a new Vatican tribunal to prosecute bishops who failed to protect their flock by covering up for pedophile priests rather than reporting them to police.

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9 a.m.

Pope Francis is greeting seminarians on his way to a chapel where he will address bishops from around the world.

Francis is speaking to about 300 bishops and others Sunday in a chapel at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Lower Merion, just across the border from the city.

The pope stayed the night at the seminary after spending Saturday in Philadelphia on the final weekend of his trip to the U.S.

Pope John Paul II visited the seminary in 1979. It has also welcomed Mother Teresa and three cardinals who later became pope, including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI.

Francis will travel to a prison in Philadelphia later Sunday morning and then celebrate Mass in front of a crowd estimated at more than 1 million Sunday afternoon.

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8:25 a.m.

From across the country and around the world faithful Catholics are gathering for the final day of Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States.

Pilgrims are packing subway cars and lugging bags and portable chairs as they make their way to Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where Francis will celebrate an afternoon Mass that could draw a million people or more.

Before the Mass, Francis is scheduled to visit a Philadelphia prison where he will speak with inmates, members of their families and corrections officers.

On Saturday, Francis spoke on religious freedom and immigration at Independence Hall and attended a festival with musical performances from Andrea Bocelli, Aretha Franklin and others for the World Meeting of Families.