The Latest: Long lines at checkpoints hours before pope Mass

By The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Latest developments in Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. All times local:           

Noon

Crowds are forming early on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway for another papal parade and an outdoor Mass, hours before they are set to begin. 

Visitors are already packed in as tight in the front of the viewing section as they were for the start of closing festival Saturday of the World Meeting of Families. 

Long backups are occurring at security checkpoints. It’s an early sign that the 4 p.m. Mass is likely to draw the biggest turnout of the pope’s U.S. visit. 

Philadelphia’s mass transit agency reports increased ridership on special papal trains heading into the city. More than 500 buses carrying 26,000 people had arrived by 11 a.m., nearly half of the shuttles organizers expect for the Mass.

Security officials are urging visitors to get to the checkpoints as early as possible to avoid last-minute bottlenecks.

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11:15 a.m.

After encouraging a group of prisoners to get their lives back on track, Pope Francis walked through the gym at Philadelphia’s largest jail and shook the hands of each of the men and women individually.

The 100 inmates in blue uniforms remained in their seats Sunday until two stood up near the end to hug Francis. He also blessed an inmate in a wheelchair.

Francis thanked the inmates at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility for the large wooden chair that they made for him, calling it beautiful.

He has criticized prison systems that only work to punish and humiliate prisoners, and he has denounced life prison terms and isolation as a form of torture.            

Francis does not have any other scheduled events before a 4 p.m. Mass that organizers estimate will draw more than 1 million.

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10:50 a.m.

Pope Francis has invoked the parable of Jesus washing the feet of his apostles as he encouraged a group of prisoners to use their time in jail to get their lives back on track.

Francis said at Philadelphia’s largest jail on Sunday that everyone is part of the effort to help the inmates rejoin society.

He has criticized prison systems that only work to punish and humiliate prisoners, and he has denounced life prison terms and isolation as a form of torture. 

Francis spoke to the men and women in blue uniforms from in front of a special wooden chair made by inmates.

He said the journey of life means getting dirty feet and that everyone needs to be cleansed.

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10:30 a.m.

Pope Francis is meeting with 100 inmates in the largest prison in Philadelphia on the final day of his U.S. tour.

Francis is in the gym of the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility and his remarks were being broadcast Sunday to the prison’s other 3,000 inmates.

The men and women in blue uniforms are sitting in front of Francis. He is standing in front of a special wooden chair made by inmates at the city’s largest jail.

A Philadelphia Archdiocese priest had been jailed there for his handling of priest sexual-abuse complaints, but Monsignor William Lynn was moved to a state prison in northeastern Pennsylvania shortly after the pope’s itinerary was announced.

Francis will also meet with members of some prisoners’ families and with corrections officers.

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10:20 a.m.

Advocates for victims of sexual abuse by priests are calling on Pope Francis to take specific steps to address the scandal.

Francis met with victims on Sunday morning and promised to hold accountable those responsible.            Barbara Dorris of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says Francis needs to follow up his “kind words” on protecting young people with action.

She says "words don’t protect children. Actions protect children and that has what has been lacking."

BishopAccountability.org says in a statement that "apologies and meetings cannot substitute for reform." The group wants Francis to enact "zero tolerance" for sexual abusers in the priesthood, hold bishops accountable and release the names and case files of thousands of priests who abused children.

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10:10 a.m.

After speaking to 300 bishops at a seminary outside Philadelphia, Pope Francis is heading back into the city to visit a jail.

Seminarians sang to Francis as he exited St. Charles Borromeo seminary Sunday morning, and he then boarded a helicopter to head to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.

Francis will meet with 100 inmates in the gym and his remarks will be broadcast to the other 3,000 inmates. He will also meet with inmates’ families and correctional officers.

It’s the final day of his U.S. visit. Francis will have some down time to himself Sunday afternoon, before celebrating Mass on the Benjamin Franklin       

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9:50 a.m.

The Vatican spokesman says Pope Francis met with five victims of sexual abuse: people who were victims of priests, relatives and teachers.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi says the three women and two men met with the pope for a half hour at the St. Charles Borromeo seminary Sunday, the pope’s last day in the U.S.

Lombardi says the pope prayed with the survivors, listened to their stories and expressed his closeness in their suffering and his "pain and shame" in the case of those abused by priests.         

In a statement, Lombardi says Francis renewed his commitment so that the victims are treated with justice and the guilty are punished.              

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who heads Francis’ sex abuse commission, organized the encounter along with the Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput.

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9:30 a.m.

On his final day in the U.S., Pope Francis has lamented the legalization of gay marriage, but he also urged America’s bishops to redirect their energies away from complaining.

He told 300 bishops at a seminary outside Philadelphia that a church that only explains its doctrine is “dangerously unbalanced.”

The U.S. bishops have repeatedly decried the acceptance of same-sex relationships, calling the legalization of gay marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court three months ago “a tragic error” and a “profoundly immoral and unjust” decision.

Francis also decried a world in which people are always chasing the latest trend and treat matters of faith and relationships as if they were mere products in a supermarket.

Francis will travel to a prison later Sunday and celebrate Mass in front of hundreds of thousands.

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9:15 a.m.

Pope Francis has met with survivors of clerical sex abuse and has promised to hold accountable those responsible.

Francis announced that he had met with a group Sunday, his final day in the United States.

Speaking to U.S. bishops, Francis said sexual abuse can no longer be kept a secret. He says he promised to "zealously" protect young people and that "all those responsible are held accountable."

Francis has decided to create a new Vatican tribunal to prosecute bishops who failed to protect their flock by covering up for pedophile priests rather than reporting them to police.

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9 a.m.

Pope Francis is greeting seminarians on his way to a chapel where he will address bishops from around the world.

Francis is speaking to about 300 bishops and others Sunday in a chapel at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Lower Merion, just across the border from the city.

The pope stayed the night at the seminary after spending Saturday in Philadelphia on the final weekend of his trip to the U.S.

Pope John Paul II visited the seminary in 1979. It has also welcomed Mother Teresa and three cardinals who later became pope, including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI.

Francis will travel to a prison in Philadelphia later Sunday morning and then celebrate Mass in front of a crowd estimated at more than 1 million Sunday afternoon.

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8:25 a.m.

From across the country and around the world faithful Catholics are gathering for the final day of Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States.

Pilgrims are packing subway cars and lugging bags and portable chairs as they make their way to Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where Francis will celebrate an afternoon Mass that could draw a million people or more.

Before the Mass, Francis is scheduled to visit a Philadelphia prison where he will speak with inmates, members of their families and corrections officers.

On Saturday, Francis spoke on religious freedom and immigration at Independence Hall and attended a festival with musical performances from Andrea Bocelli, Aretha Franklin and others for the World Meeting of Families.

© The Associated Press/WLNE-TV 2015