18 May, 2017
Pope Francis added two Portuguese shepherd children to the roster of Catholic saints Saturday, honoring young siblings whose reported visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago turned the Portuguese farm town of Fatima into one of the world's most important Catholic shrines.
She said: 'I am very emotional because this pope is truly merciful and close to the people and I think he will bring us many good things'.
But France is a famously secular country and previous year, a court in the town of Publier ordered a statue of the Virgin Mary to be removed from a public park.
However, the pope said the delays in handling cases are due to the need to draft new legislation and to the fact that there are few people capable of handling cases of sexual abuse.
The liturgy, which was celebrated in Portuguese and Latin, and according to the authorities was attended by 500,000 people while eight cardinals, 71 bishops and 2,000 priests concelebrated.
The pontiff left Fatima on Saturday afternoon after riding through the town in his popemobile. The next day Jacinta was found dead - she had died in her sleep at 10 years old.
On Saturday, the pope will canonize two of the little shepherds who saw Our Lady in Fatima, siblings Jacinta and Francisco.
Pope Francis speaks to reporters as he flies back to Rome following the visit at the Holy Shrine of Fatima in Portugal May 13, 2017.
Despite his personal doubts, the pope said that the "spiritual and pastoral facts can not be denied: People go there and convert, people who find God, who change their lives".More news: US prepares to ban laptops on flights from Europe
Jacinta and Francisco Marto, along with their cousin, claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary six different times between May and October of 1917.
The two, along with their older cousin Lúcia de Jesus dos Santos, are believed to have seen the Madonna in the same town 100 years ago. At that point they were officially canonised, and become the youngest ever saints not to be martyred.
Offering a prayer at the spot where three shepherd children reported seeing Mary in a field 100 years ago, Pope Francis asked Friday that humanity might have the courage to choose a culture of encounter over a culture of conflict and would "tear down all walls".
Jacinta and Francisco Marto were declared saints by Pope Francis at a mass in Fatima. In that light was a woman who said, "I am a lady from heaven".
Pope Francis also was asked about the resignation of Marie Collins, one of the founding members and the last remaining abuse survivor on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The figure, deemed the immaculate heart of Mary, called on the children to recite the rosary every day and to pray for the world.
Speculation has swirled about possible conversation topics at their May 24 audience, given that Francis has already said anyone who wants to build walls to keep out migrants is "not Christian". But they held fast and eventually the church recognized the apparitions as authentic in 1930.
May 13, 2017 4:20 p.m.:Pope expresses personal doubts about Medjugorje during plane press conference while returning from Fatima.
In Lucia's account of the apparitions, he noted, the three children found themselves "surrounded by God's light as it radiated from Our Lady".