September 14, 2015

Pope Francis to Bless Encuentro Cross Prior to Independence Hall Speech

Philadelphia, PA (September 14, 2015) – Pope Francis will bless a five-foot tall wooden cross known as the “Cross of the Encuentros” upon his arrival at Independence Hall on Saturday, September 26th prior to his speech about religious freedom and immigration.  The blessing of the cross symbolizes the journey of faith of Hispanic and Latino Catholics in the United States.

Latinos constitute nearly 40 percent of all Catholics in the United States and more than 50 percent of Catholics under 35 years of age.  Over the past fifty years, Hispanic ministry in the United States has gained momentum through the national pastoral movement called Encuentro, a three-year ecclesial process of missionary activity, consultation, leadership development and pastoral discernment in parishes, dioceses and episcopal regions that culminates with a national event.  The process is convened by the U.S. Catholic Bishops and a primary outcome of the Encuentro process is to discern pastoral practices and priorities to impact the quality of ministry among Hispanic and Latino Catholics.

The cross blessed by Pope Francis in Philadelphia will be the banner of the Fifth National Encuentro on Hispanic Ministry set to begin this year.  The cross will travel to dioceses throughout the country as parishes, dioceses and episcopal regions undergo their own local Encuentro process. 

For more information regarding the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, visit You can also engage the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia on Facebook (World Meeting of Families 2015) (Encuentro Mundial de las Familias – Filadelfia 2015), Twitter (@WMF2015) (@WMF2015ES) and Instagram (WMF2015).

For more information about Encuentro, please visit:


About World Meetings of Families

Beginning with 1994, The Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Family has been responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families in Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); and now, Philadelphia (2015).  Since its inception by Saint John Paul II, the World Meeting of Families has sought to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe.