New York City sang the praises of Pope Francis this past weekend as massive crowds turned out to get a glimpse of the man the world is calling the “People’s Pope.”
Beginning his tour on Thursday, September 24 with an evening prayer at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown and ending it with a Mass at Madison Square Garden on Friday, September 25, The Pope drew New Yorkers and tourists alike in the hundreds of thousands.
“It is a tremendous honor to welcome Pope Francis to New York State,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. “Both in his teachings and in his travels around the globe, Pope Francis has inspired countless people to live with kindness for one another, and to reach out for and help those in need. These are ideals that are also deeply entwined in the spirit of New York, and I am honored that the Holy Father is including our state in his first visit to the United States.”
“We try here humbly in New York City to address the inequalities of our society in many ways and I’ve been inspired by the words and the actions of Pope Francis throughout,” added Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are grateful for the extraordinary partnership we have with the archdiocese, and equally with the diocese of Brooklyn. The ways we’re working together – whether it’s pre-k and afterschool, or affordable housing — we’re working through Catholic Charities to help people in need, and certainly the amazing partnership around this visit.”
According to the mayor’s office, close to 80,000 people attended the Pope’s afternoon procession in Central Park on Friday, something that de Blasio said was celebratory of the city’s “common humanity” and the Pope’s overall message.
“I think – as is so consistent with his values and his love of all people, the fact that he is going to East Harlem and he’s going to spend time with immigrants who make this city great – I mean what could be more quintessentially New York than spending time with today’s immigrants, celebrating this ultimate city of immigrants?” said de Blasio.
The New York Immigration Coalition agreed with the mayor, urging that Congress take note of the Pope’s message.
“It is heartwarming and encouraging to see Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics across the world, challenge Congress to do better for the American people,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “The Pope has used his platform to bring attention to one of the most pressing issues in our country and in the world today, that of immigration, and he implores us to reject hostility and respond with humanity to those seeking better opportunities.”
During his stay, Pope Francis also visited the United Nations and delivered an address to the United Nations General Assembly, held a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and paid a visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem.
According to the NYPD, the city used 24,500 barriers, 1,200 traffic cones, 43 sand trucks, and 409 pieces of concrete block for the Pope’s 39-hour visit.