Remarks by Governor Wolf at the World Meeting of Families, Visit of Pope Francis
September 26, 2015
Welcome to Philadelphia, and welcome to Pennsylvania. I am very proud to welcome you all to this great Commonwealth. And I am especially grateful to the Holy Father for visiting this city and this state. By his visit – and by his many actions as Pontiff – he is reaffirming the noble values this place symbolizes
Behind me is Independence Hall. This was the home of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for many years. The Liberty Bell once rang out from its tower. The second Continental Congress met here. The Constitution of 1787 was drafted here. This is a place of freedom.
It is also a place of welcome. The Commonwealth whose government met here was founded by William Penn. Its very existence was premised on the idea of freedom of conscience. Pennsylvania was established by Penn as a refuge for people of different faiths and different nationalities. It was a place that welcomed people looking for a place to worship their God in their own way.
And Pennsylvania grew as a result. We Pennsylvanians showed that granting freedom of religion was not simply sound from a moral point of view. It was also smart public policy. Pennsylvania’s economy flourished. And so did its religious institutions
And this place became a magnet for great leaders with visions that transcended time. John F. Kennedy spoke here in 1962. Nelson Mandela spoke here. Abraham Lincoln stopped here on his way to his inauguration in 1861. In fact, he also spoke behind this lectern when he delivered the Gettysburg Address just a few miles west of here.
This is an important neighborhood, too. The National Constitution Center is just across the green. The African American Museum is just down the street. The National Museum of American Jewish History is right over there. And of course the present home of the Liberty Bell is there.
It is therefore fitting that Pope Francis makes this one of his new world destinations. This is a place of history. But more than that, it is a place of strong values and high ideals. Values and ideals that pay tribute to the Holy Father’s focus on justice, fairness, openness.
Pope Francis reminds us all of what it is to be human in its most elevated ways. And so does this place.
The Holy Father suggests that we should organize our lives in ways that promote fairness and justice. This place tells us we should govern ourselves according to the same values.
The Holy Father tells us that the world is noble because it is founded on ordinary souls. This place tells us that a government so founded is also noble.
The Holy Father tells us that we can be better than we often are. This place tells us that our government can be, too.
So, I am honored and proud to welcome all of you and the Holy Father here today.
This is a big event for all of us in Pennsylvania. And I know it is a big event for all of you here today. In a few minutes Pope Francis will give his message. He will inspire us with his thoughts on freedom and democracy. And he will reaffirm the commitment all of us must make to the better world it is our job to build.
Next I am proud to hand these festivities over to the Philadelphia Pops Orchestra. And then to Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput, who will make way for His Holiness the Pope.