Pope departs DC, arrives in New York for next leg of US trip

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NEW YORK (AP) — Latest developments in Pope Francis' visit to the United States. All times local:

10:20 p.m.

The Vatican spokesman has denied claims by advocates for victims that the pope has given short shrift to their suffering in his remarks on the clergy sex-abuse crisis.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi says Pope Francis has acknowledged victims by referring to children as the most vulnerable members of the church and speaking of child molestation as a crime.

Lombardi also noted Thursday that the pope has three more days of public events in the U.S., suggesting that further comments are ahead.

In two separate speeches, the pope has commended U.S. bishops for their response to victims and said he understood clergy had "suffered greatly" because of the shame from the scandal.

The crisis erupted in 2002 in the Archdiocese of Boston, then spread across the country and overseas.

PHOTO GALLERY: Pope takes off from Joint Base Andrews to New York


9:50 p.m.

Nuns who heard Pope Francis' strong message of support and thanks for their work are exuberant about his praise, which comes after a trying time for U.S. religious sisters.

Sister Gertrude Lily of the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary says she's "very grateful for him recognizing that we, too, are disciples of the Lord."

Speaking at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Francis described nuns as "women of strength" and "fighters" who had a "spirit of courage" as they served at the forefront of the church.

His words held enormous significance for U.S. sisters. They had been the subject of Vatican investigations under his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican offices that guard orthodoxy had accused the group of straying broadly from church teaching. The nuns denied it.

Sister Mary Alice Kizita Otoo of the Handmaids of the Divine Redeemer of Accra also was at St. Patrick's to hear the pope speak. She says nuns appreciate that the pope is talking about their good works, and he has inspired her "to yearn to be there more for the poor."


9:20 p.m.

The priest who gave Pope Francis a blessing before the first-ever papal address to Congress had no expectation he would even be asked.

That's according to the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. He says the Rev. Patrick Conroy was excited just to meet the pope and didn't anticipate that Francis would ask him for his blessing.

Conroy is the Catholic chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives. He placed his hands on Francis' head, which was bowed in prayer.

Francis often asks other clergy to bless him and constantly asks the faithful to pray for him.


9:10 p.m.

While Pope Francis' remarks at a prayer service at St. Patrick's Cathedral were reflections on the life of the church, plenty of those involved in the workings of the state were on hand for his first stop in New York City.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (KWOH'-moh), Mayor Bill de Blasio (dih BLAH'-zee-oh), and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (SHOO'-mur) were among them.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump wasn't at the service but watched from a balcony in nearby Trump Tower as the pontiff's motorcade drove by.


8:30 p.m.

Pope Francis has left St. Patrick's Cathedral after consoling priests for having to "bear the shame" of the clergy sex-abuse scandal, thanking America's nuns and offering a prayer for Muslims killed in the hajj stampede in Saudi Arabia.

The pope's remarks — his first in New York City — came during evening prayers at the cathedral.

The pontiff gradually made his way out, shaking hands with nuns and others, blessing a girl and a boy who was passed through the crowd by his father. Then he got in his Fiat, waved to the crowds still gathered outside and drove off.

As Francis rests ahead of a packed day, he's expected to stay at the home of the Vatican's ambassador to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito Auza.

The pope's schedule Friday includes addressing world leaders at the United Nations, participating in an interfaith service at the Sept. 11 memorial museum, visiting a school and taking a processional drive through Central Park. He will celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden.


7:45 p.m.

Pope Francis has made his strongest expression yet of respect and gratitude for American nuns during a prayer service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.

Francis described religious sisters as "women of strength" and "fighters" who had a "spirit of courage" as they served at the forefront of the church. He said he wanted to offer "a big thank-you and to tell you that I love you very much."

Nuns in the pews erupted in applause on hearing the pope's words. They held enormous significance for U.S. sisters, who had been the subject of Vatican investigations under his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

The Vatican offices that guards orthodoxy had ordered an overhaul of the largest umbrella group for U.S. sisters, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, accusing the group of straying broadly from church teaching, which the nuns denied.

The investigation prompted a nationwide outpouring on behalf of the nuns and a backlash against the Vatican and U.S. bishops. Francis ended the overhaul process this year, nearly two years ahead of schedule, with no major changes for the sisters' association and his thanks for their work.

The remarks were his second major gesture in support of nuns on the U.S. trip so far. In Washington on Wednesday, he paid a surprise visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious order that runs homes for poor senior citizens. The religious order is suing the Obama administration.


7:40 p.m.

The pope has again raised the clergy sex-abuse crisis, by consoling clergy for the suffering the scandal had caused them.

Francis told members of religious orders and diocesan priests he was aware they had "suffered greatly" by having to "bear the shame" of clergy who had molested children. He thanked them for their faithful service to the church in the face of the scandal.

The pope made the comments at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. He made similar comments in an address to bishops Wednesday in Washington.

The comments have angered advocates for victims, who say American bishops only took decisive action to stop perpetrators when lawsuits and government investigations revealed documents that showed the scope of the problem. The abuse crisis erupted in 2002 with the case of one pedophile priest in the Archdiocese of Boston, then spread.

A Vatican spokesman defended the pope's remarks, saying it was appropriate to recognize the bishops' extensive reforms over more than a decade in response to the scandal.


7:20 p.m.

Pope Francis has expressed his solidarity with Muslims following the hajj stampede in Saudi Arabia, where more than 700 people were killed.

Francis opened his visit to New York by offering a prayer for the victims from the altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Francis said he wanted to offer a "sentiment of closeness in light of the tragedy" that the Muslim people had suffered on Thursday.


7:15 p.m.

Pope Francis is praying vespers — the formal term for evening prayers — at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Members of the clergy and religious orders have filled the grand, gothic-style cathedral for the service.

As Francis made his way down the long central aisle to the altar, he occasionally stopped to greet people in the pews, including a a girl in a wheelchair and a mother holding a baby.

The girl wiped at her eyes, as if to whisk away tears, after he blessed her.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and other elected officials are attending the service.


6:50 p.m.

Pope Francis has arrived at St. Patrick's Cathedral to begin his New York visit with evening prayers at one of the nation's best-known churches.

Thousands of people lined up along Fifth Avenue to greet him with cheers as he made his way in his open-sided popemobile to the center of one of the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdioceses.

The cathedral's bells pealed as Francis waved to and blessed the crowd, even giving the occasional thumbs-up.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and other dignitaries greeted him on the cathedral steps.

The 136-year-old cathedral just underwent a three-year, $175 million restoration, the most extensive work there in decades.

About 5 million people visit St. Patrick's each year.


6:25 p.m.

A disabled 12-year-old girl and her family say she has new hope after Pope Francis blessed her as he arrived in New York City.

Julia Buzzese (boo-SAY'-zee) sat in her wheelchair as her family eagerly waited for Francis at John F. Kennedy Airport, hoping the pope they admire would bless her.

As he greeted the crowd of about 200, he walked over to Julia. She and her mother, Josephine, asked him to bless her. He put his hands on her forehead, nodded and gave her his blessing.

Julia says it made her "so happy." She says she thinks it will make her feel better.

Julia abruptly became unable to walk in May. Her mother says doctors have been unable to determine what is wrong with her.


6:05 p.m.

Pope Francis has arrived in Manhattan by helicopter and hopped into a Fiat hatchback, traveling in the same modest style as he did in Washington.

The military helicopter touched down at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport near Wall Street after a short flight from John F. Kennedy Airport. He landed there after flying in from Washington.

Francis is headed to St. Patrick's Cathedral for evening prayers in a charcoal gray, four-door Fiat 500L with a yellow papal flag on the hood.

The pope has eschewed limousines on his U.S. trip in favor of far smaller, Italian-made Fiats.

In general, he has made a point of traveling in modest cars, as part of his emphasis on simplicity and rejecting consumerism.


5:45 p.m.

Pope Francis is en route to Manhattan by helicopter after arriving at New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport.

As he boarded the military helicopter, he gave a final wave to the invited crowd of 200 that had gathered to greet him when he flew in from Washington.

The pope dispensed Mass cards, handshakes and some hugs to the cheering onlookers.

Francis is flying to the Downtown Manhattan Heliport near Wall Street in the helicopter, built by Sikorsky Aircraft.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is aboard. The two are headed to St. Patrick's Cathedral for evening prayers.


5:35 p.m.

A crowd of 200 people is cheering and waving hand-held Vatican flags as a smiling Pope Francis arrives at New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport.

Francis doffed his skullcap in the breeze as he made his way down the plane's stairs after flying in from Washington.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York gave Francis a hug and a kiss as the pope stepped onto the tarmac, and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzo of Brooklyn greeted him with a warm handshake.

A high-school band played "New York, New York" as Francis made his way to the crowd, where Catholic schoolchildren were waiting to present him with a bouquet and a collection of prayers written by students in the city's 86 Catholic schools.

He's handing out Mass cards, giving hugs and speaking with onlookers as people take cellphone photos.


5:10 p.m.

Pope Francis has landed in New York City to begin a visit that will take him from the United Nations to a school that sits amid public housing in East Harlem.

His chartered American Airlines plane has touched down at John F. Kennedy Airport, bringing the pontiff to the United States' largest city.

The 200-person welcoming party includes Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and five Catholic schoolchildren. It's the first papal trip to New York since Pope Benedict XVI visited in April 2008.

Francis is headed first to St. Patrick's Cathedral for Thursday evening prayers.

Earlier Thursday, he gave the first-ever papal speech to the U.S. Congress, urging lawmakers to treat immigrants "in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal."


4:55 p.m.

Pope Francis is on his way to New York City, and about 200 people have gathered to welcome him at the airport.

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, five Catholic schoolchildren and other guests gathered at John F. Kennedy Airport as snipers stood atop police vehicles. Law enforcement officers also are doing security sweeps of arriving planes.

Brooklyn Diocese spokeswoman Rocio Fidalgo says the five students were chosen based on their academic performance and attendance at Mass.

Francis is headed to the United States' biggest city after three days in Washington. He gave the first-ever papal speech to the U.S. Congress on Thursday morning, urging lawmakers to treat immigrants "in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal."

It's the first papal trip to New York since Pope Benedict XVI visited in April 2008.


4:45 p.m.

Some 450 students from Catholic schools and religious education programs joined Secretary of State John Kerry and hundreds of military members and their families in giving Pope Francis a warm send-off from Washington.

The pope is now on his way to New York. As he neared the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, the students chanted: "We love Francis, yes we do. We love Francis, how 'bout you?"

The pope spoke with Kerry and his wife for about five minutes before walking up the stairs to his plane, turning to the crowd and waving goodbye.

The Secret Service and some journalists stuck around after Francis' plane left. They are awaiting Chinese President Xi Jinping's arrival less than an hour later for two days of meetings in Washington.


3:40 p.m.

After a day of speaking to the powerful and mingling with the poor in Washington, Pope Francis is leaving the city for New York.

Francis made a last round of greetings and selfies with Washington-area students, pausing to pat a little girl's face and touch boys' heads as he made his way to the black Fiat carrying him to Andrews Air Force Base.

He will fly to Kennedy Airport, where his greeting party includes Cardinal Timothy Dolan and 200 indigent people.

Francis' plans Thursday evening include a motorcade along Fifth Avenue and a vespers service at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

He speaks to the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, visits the 9/11 Memorial and goes to Madison Square Garden for a Mass with thousands of people.

Then it's on to Philadelphia for the weekend.


2:15 p.m.

In his Washington visit, Pope Francis delivered his message of compassion and unity at a moment of particular turmoil for Congress.

The threat of a partial government shutdown looms next week unless lawmakers can resolve a dispute over funding for women's health services at Planned Parenthood, which also performs abortions and provides fetal tissue for researchers.

Francis didn't join that controversy, alluding only in passing to the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion when he noted, to applause, "our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development."

He was more direct in speaking out to the lawmakers about other issues they wrestle with, such as the death penalty, climate change and immigration.

He reminded the representatives and senators that they have been called to work that "is always based on care for the people."


1:50 p.m.

A number of presidential candidates took time from the divisive 2016 campaign to attend the pope's speech to Congress.

Republicans Ben Carson and Chris Christie came as invited guests. Also attending, senators who are in the 2016 race: Republicans Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham; and Democrat Bernie Sanders.

Some found the pope's words hard to make out at times because of his accent and low-key speaking style.

Carson says he liked the pope's themes about taking care of life, the family and the environment. Asked whether the pope said anything that bothered him, Carson said: "Not that I could understand."

Cruz said that "at times, not everyone could make out precisely what he was saying."

Sanders liked that the pope singled out Dorothy Day, a Catholic activist for labor unions and human rights in the last century, as an American who helped shape the nation's values.


1:40 p.m.

The White House says President Barack Obama had time to watch some of Pope Francis' historic address to Congress.

Spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama was struck by the pope's message both to leaders and citizens of the U.S.

In the first-ever papal address to a joint meeting of Congress, Francis urged lawmakers to embrace the immigrant "stranger in our midst," called for action to counter climate change and urged an end to the death penalty.


1:30 p.m.

Pope Francis didn't get a Supreme Court majority.

Four of the nine justices — Chief Justice John Roberts and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor — were in the House chamber to hear the pope.

Roberts, Kennedy and Sotomayor are three of the court's six Catholic justices. They also attended Wednesday's mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The other Catholic justices are Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Ginsburg is one of three Jews on the high court, along with Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.


1 p.m.

Lawmakers known for feuding bitterly oozed civility and decorum when they came together to hear the pope — but their partisan differences occasionally showed through.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez, a New York Democrat, let out a whoop when Pope Francis called for abolishing the death penalty.

Other Democrats rose to applaud when the pope urged action on climate change.

Some Republicans, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, stood when the pope cited his opposition to abortion.

Those reactions were reminiscent of the much more openly partisan gatherings in the same chamber to hear presidents' State of the Union addresses, when Republicans and Democrats traditionally pop up to applaud different lines.


12:45 p.m.

Pope Francis brought comfort to a more modest gathering after speaking to Congress and thousands of people cheering from the lawn.

Outside the Catholic Charities building in Washington, the pope walked among tables where homeless and needy people were eating and blessed the meal.

Francis also spoke to about 400 people at St. Patrick Church, including the homeless, parishioners of the church and Catholic Charities staff. He waded into the crowd and hugged people.

Ramona Service of Washington was among those who have been served by Catholic Charities and were invited to hear the pope speak

Service received help from Catholic Charities with funeral expenses when her son died in April.

She says Francis spoke "from the heart" and calls him "a very giving, sensible pope."

Sherrie May, 33, says the pope leaned over to kiss her 5-month-old daughter Rebecca on the head. Says May: "It was amazing."


12:15 p.m.

House Speaker John Boehner has tried for 20 years to get a pope to address Congress. So it's no surprise that the lawmaker known for frequently shedding tears found himself trying to hold them back once more.

After the speech, Boehner accompanied Pope Francis to the speaker's balcony of the Capitol, where the pontiff greeted the tens of thousands on the lawn and offered a prayer.

Standing next to the pope, Boehner, who is Catholic, was visibly moved. Fighting back tears, he pulled out a handkerchief to blow his nose.


11:40 a.m.

Fresh off his historic speech to Congress and greetings to a crowd of tens of thousands, Pope Francis addressed one of smallest gatherings of his U.S. visit.

Francis spoke to roughly 400 people at St. Patrick's Church in downtown Washington, addressing parishioners, people served by Catholic Charities and choirs from two local high schools. He called for charity and compassion toward the homeless and the least fortunate. And he said there is no social or moral justification for a lack of housing for the people.

Afterward, he was going to help serve lunch to homeless people who are regularly fed by Catholic Charities.


11:30 a.m.

Tens of thousands who gathered on the front lawn of the Capitol stood quietly and attentively as they listened to Pope Francis speak inside to a joint meeting of Congress.

The largest applause came when Francis invoked the Golden Rule — do unto others as you would have them do unto you — in reference to the Syrian refugee crisis.

He also received steady applause when he spoke about defending human life at every stage of development and about the joy of marriage and family life.

Mostly, though, the crowd listened quietly to a speech that was not always easily understood, given the pope's accent and the acoustics of the Capitol lawn.


11:20 a.m.

From the balcony of the U.S. Capitol, Pope Francis asked a crowd of tens of thousands to pray for him.

It's a plea he traditionally makes. But this time, speaking in Spanish, he added a line to acknowledge that not everyone in the crowd was Christian, much less a believer.

Through a translator, the pontiff said: "If among you there are some who don't believe or who cannot pray, I ask that you send good wishes my way."

After his speech to Congress, the pope walked onto a balcony of the Capitol and greeted the throngs with "Buenos Dias."

He expressed gratitude for their presence and asked God to bless "the most important ones here — children."

Francis ended his remarks in English, saying "Thank you very much and God bless America." The crowd cheered boisterously.


11:10 a.m.

Pope Francis has taken his call for action on climate change to Congress. In his address to lawmakers, Francis urged a "courageous and responsible effort" to avert the most serious effects of what he called the "environmental deterioration caused by human activity."

Francis says he's convinced that working together, nations can make a difference to slow global warming. He says the U.S. and "this Congress" have an important role to play. Now, he says, is the time for a "culture of care."


11 a.m.

Pope Francis is lamenting that the very basis of marriage and family life today is being put into question — an allusion to gay marriage in a country that recently legalized same-sex marriage across the land.

Speaking before Congress in the first-ever papal address, Francis said the family today is "threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without."

While Francis has shown great openness to gays as individuals, he has staunchly upheld the church teaching that marriage is a union between man and woman.

Sitting in front of Francis for his speech was John Roberts, chief justice of the Supreme Court, which legalized gay marriage across the country.

Francis is expected to speak in greater depth about the threats to families at a big church rally in Philadelphia later this week.


11 a.m.

Pope Francis is demanding an end to the arms trade, delivering a tough message to a country that is the world's largest exporter of weapons.

Speaking before Congress, the pope asked why weapons are being sold to people who intend only to inflict suffering on innocents. He said: "Sadly, the answer as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood."

Francis has in the past denounced weapons makers and dealers as "the root of evil" and questioned how weapons manufacturers can call themselves Christian.

Francis has, however, said that it is legitimate to use military force against an "unjust aggression," such as the attacks by Islamic extremists against Christian and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq.


10:35 a.m.

Speaking to Congress, Pope Francis is calling for an end to the death penalty in the U.S. and across the world.

Francis says that every life is sacred and society can only benefit from rehabilitating those convicted of crimes.

The pope noted that U.S. bishops have renewed their call to abolish capital punishment. That idea is unpopular, however, with many American politicians.

The pontiff did not specifically mention abortion — a particularly contentious issue in Congress at the moment that threatens to force the shutdown of the U.S. government next week.

Still, his remarks referred to the Catholic church's opposition to abortion. He urged lawmakers and all Americans to "protect and defend human life at every stage of its development."


10:30 a.m.

Pope Francis is urging Congress members — and the United States as a whole — not to be afraid of immigrants but to welcome them as fellow human beings.

He says people are not things that can be discarded just because they are troublesome.

The pontiff's admonition comes as the presidential race is roiled by questions about immigration from Mexico and Latin America, and the nation is weighing how many migrants to accept from wars in the Middle East.

The son of Italian immigrants to Argentina himself, Francis noted that the United States was founded by immigrants, that many lawmakers are descended from foreigners, and that this generation must not "turn their back on our neighbors."

His plea: "Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated."


10:15 a.m.

Pope Francis is calling for a "delicate balance" in fighting religious extremism to ensure that fundamental freedoms aren't trampled at the same time.

He says in his speech to Congress that "no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism."

He says religious, intellectual and individual freedoms must be safeguarded, while combatting violence perpetrated in the name of religion.

The pope cautions against simplistically breaking the world into camps of good and evil.

Francis has expressed deep concern about the slaughter of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East at the hands of Islamic extremists, fearing that the Christian presence in the region is risk. He's dispatched envoys to Iraq with money and other forms of assistance to help refugees.


10:05 a.m.

Pope Francis has opened his historic speech to Congress by describing himself as a "son of this great continent" joined in a common purpose with America.

The Argentine-born pope is the first from the Americas. His speech to Congress is the first by any pontiff.

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