Pope Francis brings message to world leaders at UN

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his wife, Yoo Soon-taek, met the pontiff as he arrived at the world body's headquarters in New York just before 8:30 a.m.

The Vatican has said Francis is also expected to discuss the role of poverty and bad government in driving conflict and migration. But inequality, poverty, the environment and religious persecution may also be among the issues he highlights.

VIDEO: Watch the Pope's message to the U.N. here. 

Francis is emphasizing themes that have shaped his popular papacy as he packs in encounters with the powerful and the poor in New York City - from the world stage of the United Nations to an inner-city school.
His agenda for Friday reflects both his global stature and his of-the-people approach, while taking him from the solemnity of ground zero to the struggles of East Harlem. It includes events as large as a processional drive through Central Park, as personal as meeting schoolchildren and immigrants, and as inspiring for the faithful as Mass for thousands in the Madison Square Garden arena.

Francis, who on Thursday became the first pope to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress, was to speak to world leaders gathered for a U.N. General Assembly summit to adopt new global goals to fight poverty and preserve the environment.

After his time at the U.N., the pope will head next to the 9/11 memorial, where two waterfall pools mark the outlines of the World Trade Center's twin towers before they were felled by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He's expected to meet relatives of some of the nearly 3,000 victims before heading below ground to the National Sept. 11 Museum for an interfaith service.

First comes a visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School, set amid public housing in the heavily Hispanic neighborhood of East Harlem.

Then he'll greet as many as 80,000 onlookers as he drives through Central Park, en route to Mass for 18,000 at Madison Square Garden.

His reflections included his strongest expression yet of gratitude and respect for American nuns, whom he thanked for their strength, spirit and courage. Pews full of U.S. priests and sisters erupted in applause on hearing Francis' words, which came after he halted an overhaul the Vatican had ordered under his predecessor to the largest umbrella group of U.S. sisters. The Vatican office that guards orthodoxy had accused the nuns of straying from church teaching, which they denied.

Lawmakers gave rousing ovations despite obvious disagreements over some of his pleas. Though he offered an agenda more to Democrats' liking, Republicans heard something to applaud in his references to the sanctity of life and family relations, reminders that even the more open Roman Catholic Church over which Francis presides still condemns abortion and gay marriage.

"Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated," he said. "Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves."

Francis wraps up his U.S. visit this weekend in Philadelphia, where he speaks in front of Independence Hall and celebrates Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to close out a big Catholic families rally.