Pope Francis addressed immigrant communities at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia Saturday and reminded them to “never be ashamed of your traditions.”
"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," the pope said in Spanish.
"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," he added.
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The Argentinian pope’s address took place outside Independence Hall, where the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and adopted.
"By contributing your gifts, you will not only find your place here, you will help to renew society from within," he continued.
In the framework of immigration, the pope also raised the issue of religious freedom and discrimination in a country where Muslim communities have long been targets of racialized profiling, state surveillance and general vilification and exclusion.
“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,” Francis said, “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.”
He further affirmed that globalization can be positive if differences across cultures and geographies are respected.
“If a globalization tries to make everybody even, as if it were a sphere, that globalization destroys the richness and the specificities of each person and each people,” he said. “If a globalization tries to unite everyone, but does so respecting each individual, each person, each richness, each specificity, respecting each people, that globalization is good and it enables us to keep growing and take us to peace.”
During his Philadelphia visit, Pope Francis conducted a morning mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul before addressing immigrants at the city's Independence Hall. Later in the day he is scheduled to appear before crowds at the Festival of Families.
The visit to Philadelphia is the final leg of the Pope's tour of the United States, which will wrap up on Sunday.