In Philadelphia at a giant rally emceed by the actor and ex-rapper Mark Wahlberg, Pope Francis continued to surprise the faithful (and the not so faithful) with his mix of earnest emotion, exultant rhetoric, and plainspoken humor. If in comedy timing is everything, Pope Francis showed he had the touch even if his delivery relied on a translator — and so had to wait a beat for the punch line.
The subject of the Pope’s Philadelphia speech was love and family. Pope Francis referred to the family as a “factory of hope.” But, as they say, wait for it... He followed this up with a message to skeptics, who he imagined asking knowingly: “Father, you speak like that because you’re not married.” The crowd laughed, of course. Pope Francis then acknowledged a family’s difficulties — “quarrels, plates flying, children can cause headaches.” And here comes yet another Francis zinger: “I won’t speak of mothers-in-law.” Rousing laughter. Then back to the main message, which was that families are a source of light.