The 78-year-old Argentine pontiff, due to fly from New York and arrive in Philadelphia around 9:30 am EDT (1330 GMT), is set to go to the site of Independence Hall, the 18th century red-brick building where the nation's two bedrock documents, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, were adopted.
               
Francis will hold a rally there with Hispanic and other immigrants on the theme of religious freedom.

The event combines two issues about which Francis is most concerned: the plight of immigrants seeking a better life for themselves and their families, and the freedom to practice religion.
               
Pope has denounced the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.
               
In his address at the U.N. General Assembly yesterday, Pope noted that Christians and others in the Middle East 'have been forced to witness the destruction of their places of worship, their cultural and religious heritage, their houses and property' and have been forced either to flee or face death or enslavement.
               
In his address, Pope also denounced 'a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity' in the world that causes the misuse of natural resources and the exclusion of 'the weak and disadvantaged.'

 

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