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There was entertainment, there was testimony about the struggles of family, but the man who has taken Philadelphia by storm was on hand for the Festival of Families on the Parkway Saturday night. Pope Francis was the crowd pleaser as he arrived to the Parkway aboard the Popemobile, as the crowd snapped photos and cheered.

The Pope heard from six families coming from as far away as Jordan to as close as New York about their joys and struggles. In the end, Pope Francis – deeply moved by the stories of commitment to family – scrapped his prepared remarks and spoke as a pastor in defense of families. He advised couples to turn to grandparents for wisdom and each other. And, like a gentle uncle, advised couples never to end the day angry, but instead settle their disagreements in peace.

Actor Mark Wahlberg hosted The Festival of Families. Grammy Award winner Aretha Franklin performed for the Pope, along with the band “The Fray.” Wahlberg, Franklin, and The Fray joined a lineup that includes Andrea Bocelli, Juanes and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Former Philadelphia Eagle Herb Lusk read from Luke 15 to share the story of the Prodigal Son with the audience. Comedian and author Jim Gaffigan also performed earlier in the evening.

This was one of Pope Francis’ several public events Saturday. Earlier, he celebrated mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul and delivered a speech at Independence Hall. As he blessed the assembly – which included thousands watching on screens down the Parkway – the Pope quipped “see you tomorrow.”  [philadelphia.cbslocal.com]


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