On Saturday, September 26th, Pope Francis visited Independence Mall in Philadelphia. There, the pontiff delivered a speech to an estimated crowd of 50,000, including mainly the local Hispanic community and immigrants. The podium he spoke from was formerly used by Abraham Lincoln to deliver the Gettysburg Address.

Pope Francis’ Speech at Independence Mall

Dear Friends,

One of the highlights of my visit is to stand here, before Independence Mall, the birthplace of the United States of America. It was here that the freedoms which define this country were first proclaimed. The Declaration of Independence stated that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that governments exist to protect and defend those rights. Those ringing words continue to inspire us today, even as they have inspired peoples throughout the world to fight for the freedom to live in accordance with their dignity.

But history also shows that these or any truths must constantly be reaffirmed, re-appropriated and defended. The history of this nation is also the tale of a constant effort, lasting to our own day, to embody those lofty principles in social and political life. We remember the great struggles which led to the abolition of slavery, the extension of voting rights, the growth of the labor movement, and the gradual effort to eliminate every kind of racism and prejudice directed at successive waves of new Americans. This shows that, when a country is determined to remain true to its founding principles, based on respect for human dignity, it is strengthened and renewed.

All of us benefit from remembering our past. A people which remembers does not repeat past errors; instead, it looks with confidence to the challenges of the present and the future. Remembrance saves a people’s soul from whatever or whoever would attempt to dominate it or use it for their interests. When individuals and communities are guaranteed the effective exercise of their rights, they are not only free to realize their potential, they also contribute to the welfare and enrichment of society.

In this place which is symbolic of the American way, I would like to reflect with you on the right to religious freedom. It is a fundamental right which shapes the way we interact socially and personally with our neighbors whose religious views differ from our own.

Religious freedom certainly means the right to worship God, individually and in community, as our consciences dictate. But religious liberty, by its nature, transcends places of worship and the private sphere of individuals and families.

Our various religious traditions serve society primarily by the message they proclaim. They call individuals and communities to worship God, the source of all life, liberty and happiness. They remind us of the transcendent dimension of human existence and our irreducible freedom in the face of every claim to absolute power. We need but look at history, especially the history of the last century, to see the atrocities perpetrated by systems which claimed to build one or another “earthly paradise” by dominating peoples, subjecting them to apparently indisputable principles and denying them any kind of rights.

Our rich religious traditions seek to offer meaning and direction, “they have an enduring power to open new horizons, to stimulate thought, to expand the mind and heart” (Evangelii Gaudium, 256). They call to conversion, reconciliation, concern for the future of society, self-sacrifice in the service of the common good, and compassion for those in need. At the heart of their spiritual mission is the proclamation of the truth and dignity of the human person and human rights.

Our religious traditions remind us that, as human beings, we are called to acknowledge an Other, who reveals our relational identity in the face of every effort to impose “a uniformity to which the egotism of the powerful, the conformism of the weak, or the ideology of the utopian would seek to impose on us” (M. de Certeau).

In a world where various forms of modern tyranny seek to suppress religious freedom, or try to reduce it to a subculture without right to a voice in the public square, or to use religion as a pretext for hatred and brutality, it is imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.

We live in a world subject to the “globalization of the technocratic paradigm” (Laudato Si’, 106), which consciously aims at a one-dimensional uniformity and seeks to eliminate all differences and traditions in a superficial quest for unity. The religions thus have the right and the duty to make clear that it is possible to build a society where “a healthy pluralism which respects differences and values them as such” (Evangeli Gaudium, 255) is a “precious ally in the commitment to defending human dignity… and a path to peace in our troubled world” (ibid., 257).

The Quakers who founded Philadelphia were inspired by a profound evangelical sense of the dignity of each individual and the ideal of a community united by brotherly love. This conviction led them to found a colony which would be a haven of religious freedom and tolerance. That sense of fraternal concern for the dignity of all, especially the weak and the vulnerable, became an essential part of the American spirit. During his visit to the United States in 1987, Saint John Paul II paid moving homage to this, reminding all Americans that: “The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones” (Farewell Address, 19 September 1987, 3).

I take this opportunity to thank all those, of whatever religion, who have sought to serve the God of peace by building cities of brotherly love, by caring for our neighbors in need, by defending the dignity of God’s gift of life in all its stages, by defending the cause of the poor and the immigrant. All too often, those most in need of our help are unable to be heard. You are their voice, and many of you have faithfully made their cry heard. In this witness, which frequently encounters powerful resistance, you remind American democracy of the ideals for which it was founded, and that society is weakened whenever and wherever injustice prevails.

Among us today are members of America’s large Hispanic population, as well as representatives of recent immigrants to the United States. I greet all of you with particular affection! Many of you have emigrated to this country at great personal cost, but in the hope of building a new life. Do not be discouraged by whatever challenges and hardships you face. I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to your new nation. You should never be ashamed of your traditions. Do not forget the lessons you learned from your elders, which are something you can bring to enrich the life of this American land. I repeat, do not be ashamed of what is part of you, your life blood. You are also called to be responsible citizens, and to contribute fruitfully to the life of the communities in which you live. I think in particular of the vibrant faith which so many of you possess, the deep sense of family life and all those other values which you have inherited. By contributing your gifts, you will not only find your place here, you will help to renew society from within.

Dear friends, I thank you for your warm welcome and for joining me here today. May this country and each of you be renewed in gratitude for the many blessings and freedoms that you enjoy. And may you defend these rights, especially your religious freedom, for it has been given to you by God himself. May he bless you all. I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me.

Independence Hall is considered the heart of the Independence National Historic Park in Center City Philadelphia. The hall is famous for being the location where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were signed and adopted. For many, it is commonly known as the birthplace of America.



  • http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/holy-see/francis/papal-visit-2015/2015-papal-visit-schedule.cfm
  • http://www.philly.com/philly/news/pope/20150701_Pope_s_stops_in_Philly__Prison__Independence_Mall.html
  • http://www.philly.com/philly/news/pope/20150701_Papal_pathways.html
  • http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/30/418906541/pope-in-u-s-visit-will-meet-with-poor-president-politicians
  • http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/philadelphia/83609-popes-itinerary-for-philadelphia-visit-released
  • http://archphila.org/press%20releases/pr002609.php
  • https://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/ByIssue/Article/TabId/735/ArtMID/13636/ArticleID/18134/Must-know-details-about-Francis-US-trip.aspx
  • http://www.nps.gov/inde/planyourvisit/papalvisit2015.htm

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  • Mary ann

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  • Dolores

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    Ours tickets do not indicate a gate. Can we bring lawn chairs?

  • Life Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness

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    The founders of the United States of America (as well as the first members of We the People) fully understood Pope Francis I’s description of the hardships caused by unfettered capitalism and markets without any limits. America’s founders rejected the notion that the few who possessed extraordinary amounts of money should rule. Rather, they entered into an agreement among all Americans that money should serve We the People. In other words, all Americans have already agreed with Pope Francis: “Money must serve, not rule!” The Agreement among We the People already mandates that wealth must serve to fulfill the human rights of all Americans and that the few who have extraordinary wealth shall not rule the many. The Declaration of Independence evidences all Americans’ agreement to Human Rights Capitalism. See https://goo.gl/AgAc2a

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  • Dolores

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    September 26, 2015 at 1:06 am

    We have tickets for Saturday’s event but an entry gate is not shown.. According to your other responses a gate should be listed. Type shows independence hall.

  • Javier

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    September 26, 2015 at 12:44 am

    How do I find parking? For Benjamin Frankling for sat & Sunday?

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  • Melissa

    says on:
    September 26, 2015 at 12:05 am

    We live in center city Philadelphia and would like to attend the speech at Independence Mall but we don’t have tickets. Is there any possibility of getting in?

    • Anjii

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      November 6, 2016 at 5:39 am

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  • Carin Davis

    says on:
    September 25, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    I am lucky enough to have tickets to Independence Mall and the Parkway on Saturday. I have looked and looked for the answer to this question but can not find it anywhere : Once we enter the secure perimeter for Independence Mall, are we allowed to then exit, and come back in again?

    • Delphia

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      November 6, 2016 at 6:33 am

      Help, I’ve been informed and I can’t become igrtnano.

  • Kevin Fleming

    says on:
    September 25, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Joseph, you said there is a gate listed on the ticket, but my tickets for the Independence Hall remarks do not have a gate listed on it. Am I correct that you are recommending arriving at the 12:30-1 time mentioned on the ticket? Thanks.

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      November 6, 2016 at 7:13 am

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  • Rose Ennis

    says on:
    September 25, 2015 at 1:00 am

    I have a ticket for Independance Hall which says 12:30 for Pope Francis’s remarks but the website is stating 4:45 p.m. Which is correct?

    • Joseph Feeley

      says on:
      September 25, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      Hi Rose,

      You probably have to go through security at 12:30. A lot of these events require people being there much much earlier than the actual event for security and safety reasons.

      Joseph Feeley
      Website Manager

    • Misty

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      November 6, 2016 at 5:36 am

      Alihgrt alright alright that’s exactly what I needed!

  • annemarie

    says on:
    September 24, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    i have tickets i was one of the lucky ones and world family meeting sent an email reminder

    here is my question

    My ticket states 1230 to 130 ? what does that mean as the Pope is speaking at 445 to 545 please advise as i have my mom with me who is 87 years old so i want to make sure i arrive correctly

    • Joseph Feeley

      says on:
      September 25, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      Guests must enter via assigned security gate (listed on ticket) beginning at 11am. All guests must be at their assigned gate no later than 3:30pm.

      Joseph Feeley
      Website Manager

      • maude

        says on:
        September 26, 2015 at 3:17 am

        Sorry, but I don’t see any security gate assignments on the tickets that were distributed electronically. There was also no attached email stating this information. Where are we supposed to enter the park?

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    • Dreama

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  • Margo

    says on:
    September 22, 2015 at 1:55 am

    I have tickets for this event , Independence Mall. I need some help , trying to help my logistics . I am coming from Reading , Pa . Could I drive and park my car maybe around University city and just walk from there . Trying to figure it out the best logistics . Should I drive Saturday or Friday .

    • Joseph Feeley

      says on:
      September 22, 2015 at 2:29 pm

      Hi Margo,

      This site should be of help to you: http://www.papal511.com/
      and this one as well: http://www.nps.gov/inde/planyourvisit/papalvisit2015.htm

      Joseph Feeley
      Website Manager

      • Mira

        says on:
        November 6, 2016 at 5:43 am

        Great article but it didn’t have evginthrye-I didn’t find the kitchen sink!

    • Marisa DiCicco

      says on:
      September 25, 2015 at 3:18 am

      Hi Margo, I am coming from CT with my 12 year old twin daughters. By any chance do you know if we could attend the last Sunday mass that With pope Francis? Is it in an open area? Do people need tickets? One of my girls is in a wheel chair and I would like to know because don’t want to wander with her as I don’t know the area.

      • Joseph Feeley

        says on:
        September 25, 2015 at 2:59 pm

        Hi Marisa,

        You don’t need tickets for the papal mass, but you will need a public transportation pass as no cars are allowed in most of the city. Here is the page for transportation contacts:

        Joseph Feeley
        Website Manager

        • Trevon

          says on:
          November 6, 2016 at 5:39 am

          I dind’t know where to find this info then kaboom it was here.

      • Ethanael

        says on:
        November 6, 2016 at 6:31 am

        No colmapints on this end, simply a good piece.

    • Gatsy

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      February 9, 2016 at 2:05 am

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  • Trish

    says on:
    September 10, 2015 at 1:25 am

    Does anyone know if kids need tickets? Can I carry in a 4 year old?

    • India

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      November 6, 2016 at 6:01 am

      Arcetlis like this are an example of quick, helpful answers.

  • Alan

    says on:
    September 2, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    On another Note, There is still septa passes available from select stations.

    • Wimpy

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      February 9, 2016 at 1:39 am

      Why do I bother caillng up people when I can just read this!

  • Alan

    says on:
    September 2, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Independence Hall will be open until 7:00 during the papal visit. Free tickets available at the walk up area at independence Hall or you can reserve online for $1.50 a ticket.

  • Eli Vassie

    says on:
    August 31, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    He’ll visit the Independence Mall, the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, and of course, the Ben Franklin Parkway. Pope Francis will be on a tight schedule, but millions of people will have the opportunity to see him in person.

    • Rayann

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      November 6, 2016 at 5:44 am

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  • Joseph Malone

    says on:
    August 24, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Mr. Feeley,

    I have been trying to find out how to get tickets to the as of yet Ticketed or Non Ticketed event at Independence Mall on Saturday 26th. I have yet to find an answer from your site, Independence Mall Visitor Center or Catholic to the Max.
    Have you been able to find any info?

    Thank You

    • Joseph Feeley

      says on:
      August 27, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      We haven’t had too much luck ourselves. Sorry 🙁

      • veronica

        says on:
        September 1, 2015 at 4:10 pm

        How can we get ticket to meet Pope Francis, or a least to greet him, and so he can bless my two little boys.

      • Alan

        says on:
        September 2, 2015 at 3:41 pm

        This is a ticketed event, but the tickets will be free and it will be first-come, first-serve as far as where to stand. The public will be allowed on the grass of Independence Mall and stretch back to the lawn of the Constitution Center.

        • Maryland

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          November 6, 2016 at 6:34 am

          Braililnce for free; your parents must be a sweetheart and a certified genius.

      • Jean

        says on:
        February 9, 2016 at 2:07 am

        Dude, right on there brhoetr.

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      November 6, 2016 at 5:48 am

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  • Dyson

    says on:
    August 8, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    He’ll visit the Independence Mall, the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, and of course, the Ben Franklin Parkway. Pope Francis will be on a tight schedule, but millions of people will have the opportunity to see him in person.

    • Jennah

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      February 8, 2016 at 11:04 pm

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  • Jacquelyn Kork

    says on:
    July 20, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    My family are direct descendants of William Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. I was wondering if we could get free passes to this event? Thank You. We have proof of the lineage.

    • Joseph Feeley

      says on:
      July 22, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Hi Jacquelyn,

      We don’t sell or give away passes, this is just an information site. However, you may find some help contacting the Independence Mall park at the following number toll free: 1-877-444-6777 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Eastern Time) or 215-965-2305
      or visiting the following site:

      Best of luck,
      Joseph Feeley
      Website Manager

    • Esther

      says on:
      September 13, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      Maybe you should have contacted your parish or someone well connected in the WMOF. You had to be on the WMOF website when they made thousands of tickets available to the public in a lottery system. If you were one of the luck ones, like me, you got your passes. I am sure many people without tickets will still show up. They have a non-ticketed area.

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    says on:
    July 19, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    How do I get tickets for the Independence Mall event?

  • Lori gigliotti

    says on:
    July 19, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    When and how can I get tickets for the Independence Mall event?

  • Catherine Barrett

    says on:
    July 18, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Where will the non-ticket area be?

    • Joseph Feeley

      says on:
      July 22, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      Hi Catherine,

      There is currently no information about this other than the press release that mentioned the non-ticketed area.

      If you have any other inquiries feel free to contact the World Meeting of Families at 1-855-WMF-2015

      You also might find some help contacting the Independence Mall park at the following number toll free: 1-877-444-6777 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Eastern Time) or 215-965-2305
      or visiting their website:

      Joseph Feeley
      Website Manager

      • Andrew Z

        says on:
        August 17, 2015 at 5:31 pm

        I tried the government number. They do not seem to be selling any tickets in conjunction with the Papal visit. I did not ask if they are selling tickets for the tour of the Independence building. I am waiting to hear back from the WMF organization.

      • TA

        says on:
        September 10, 2015 at 11:05 pm

        Thank you as other such as myself are too looking for the same info

      • Daisy

        says on:
        November 6, 2016 at 5:55 am

        Great article but it didn’t have evngtyhier-I didn’t find the kitchen sink!