Pope Francis has celebrated a large open-air Mass in Philadelphia, ending his six-day visit to the US.
He appealed for unity and family love, as thousands of people gathered at the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Earlier, the pontiff prayed with a group of victims of child sexual abuse, saying “God weeps” for their suffering.
Clergy and bishops abusing children would be held accountable, he said. The Roman Catholic Church in the US has been embroiled in child sex scandals.
US dioceses have made huge compensation payouts to victims.
However, many abuse survivors are angry at how the Vatican has dealt with allegations.
During Sunday’s homily in Spanish, the 78-year-old Argentine pontiff called the crowd to be open to “miracles of love for the sake of all the families of the world”.
“The urgent challenge of protecting our home includes the effort to bring the entire human family together in the pursuit of a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.”
And finishing Mass, the Pope said: “I ask you to pray for me. Don’t forget.”
Earlier on Sunday, he met the five victims, all now adults who had suffered sexual abuse as children, during a seminary in Pennsylvania.
The group – three women and two men – had been abused by clergy, family members or teachers, papal spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement.
He said the Pope was “overwhelmed with shame that men entrusted with the tender care of children violated these little ones and caused grievous harm”.
Francis told the victims who were abused by a member of the clergy that he was “deeply sorry” for the times when the abuse was reported, but victims or their families “were not heard or believed,” the statement said.
It added that the Pope “renewed his commitment” to ensure that victims are treated with justice, the guilty are punished, and to effective prevention in the Church and in society, the statement said. –BBC
But survivors’ advocacy groups expressed some scepticism at whether the Pope’s words would lead to any change.
John Salveson, President of the Pennsylvania-based Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse, said: “The truth is that the survivor community has been asking the Church to take several simple steps to protect children and hold perpetrators and enablers accountable for years, but the Church has refused to take these actions.