WASHINGTON— Pope Francis received a warm welcome Sunday morning from bishops at the seminary where he had been staying during his Philadelphia visit. The Vatican said earlier the pope met privately with five victims of sexual abuse, some at the hands of priests.
Many victims of have said the Vatican has not done enough to address the decades-long scandal. But after Sunday's meeting, the pontiff vowed to hold accountable anyone who abuses children.
"God weeps for the sexual abuse of children. These [abuses] cannot be maintained in secret," said Pope Francis.
The pope then traveled to a Philadelphia jail, where he was presented with a wooden chair, hand-carved by inmates.
Pope Francis has repeatedly voiced his opposition to the death penalty, and did so again during this U.S. visit. He told the prisoners no human being is unworthy of redemption.
"Any society, any family, which cannot share or take seriously the pain of its children, and views that pain is something normal or to be expected, is a society ‘condemned’ to remain a hostage to itself, prey to the very things which cause pain. I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own," he said.
Later, it was time for another trip in the "popemobile" among hundreds of thousands of admirers, en route to his final Mass of the visit in downtown Philadelphia.
During the massive outdoor service, he told the crowd that love is best shown by what he called life's "little gestures," especially in the home.
"These are the little gestures done by mothers, by grandmothers, fathers, grandfathers, by children and siblings. They're little signs of tenderness, of affection and compassion,” said Pope Francis.
Later Sunday evening, Vice President Joe Biden led the farewell delegation for Pope Francis, as his plane departed the U.S. for the return flight to Vatican City.