— -- Pope Francis spoke candidly tonight about the importance of family before an enormous crowd at the World Meeting of Families Festival to cap off an extraordinary day in Philadelphia.
"The family is beautiful, but there's effort involved and there are problems," the pope said.
Pope Francis was welcomed by actor Mark Wahlberg, who hosted the evening's performances. The nearly two-hour portion of the show the pope sat through featured musicians and a series of singing and dancing acts. Among those who performed were Aretha Franklin and Andrea Bocelli.
Six families from various continents were among the speakers. They shared their hopes, dreams and fears on stage as the pontiff listened attentively. The families were from Australia, Ukraine, Jordan, Nigeria, the United States and Argentina.
At the end of the festival, the pontiff, going off script from his prepared remarks, highlighted the importance of families.
"All the love and beauty God has in himself, he gives it to the family," the pope said.
Pope Francis added, "God sent Him [Jesus] amid a family. He could do this because it was a family with a truly open heart."
"You know what [God] likes most? To knock on the doors of families and to find the families who love each other, families who bring up their children to grow and help move forward to create, develop a society of truth, goodness and beauty," he added.
The pope even joked about family life not being easy and that he knows about the problems they face -- despite being a single man.
"Families have the difficulties, families fight, sometimes plates can fly. Children bring headaches. I won't speak about mother-in-laws," he said. "With families, there is always light. ... The family is like a factory of hope, a factory of Resurrection."
The pope closed the night out by making another joke.
"I'll see you all at mass tomorrow," he said. "What time is that again?"
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