Juanes Plans to Perform Songs About 'Family & Faith & Hope' for Pope Francis in Philadelphia


During his historic visit to the U.S. this week, Pope Francis is being embraced by politicians, dignitaries, celebrities, devout Catholics, and -- let’s not forget -- Latin music superstars.

The Argentine-born pontífice’s visit includes a concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Friday afternoon (Sept. 25). Billed as “A Journey in Faith,” the special event will feature performances by Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Hudson and Harry Connick Jr., as well as appearances by Norm Lewis and Martin Sheen, and will lead into the pope’s highly anticipated Mass immediately after.

On Saturday (Sept. 26), the next-to-last night of the pope’s U.S. trek, the celebrations continue in Philadelphia with the outdoor Festival of Families. Mark Wahlberg is set to host, comedian Jim Gaffigan will appear, and Aretha Franklin, Andrea Bocelli, The Fray, Sister Sledge and Juanes will bring the music to the masses for the closing ceremony of the triennial World Meeting of Families conference.

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A bona fide rock star who has advocated for peace in his native Colombia for over a decade through his Mi Sangre Foundation and whose philanthropy stretches across Latin America, Juanes spoke to CNN about what may arguably be the biggest performance of his career. “I was reading my emails at home in Miami and I saw one from my manager saying, ‘You’ve been invited to sing for the pope,’” he recalled. “My first thought is, ‘Is this the real pope, as in, Francisco?’”

Juanes says he considers Pope Francis not just real, but revolutionary. “He has stood for inclusion and respect and brought a new direction to the Church,” the "A Dios Le Pido" singer told USA Today. “He understands that we are all different and that there is a lot of inequality in the world.

Beyond being raised Catholic in his native Medellin, Juanes says he greatly admires Pope Francis’ advocacy on behalf of the poor and the disenfranchised. Indeed, the Vatican’s leader made sure to advocate for immigrants during his first-ever U.S. visit. Addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Sept. 24, he said, “Thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’”

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As for how Juanes plans to honor the pope on Saturday, he shared, “I have some songs that are about faith and family and hope, so maybe ‘A Dios Le Pido,’ for example, or ‘Juntos (Together),’ which talks about working together to make dreams come true, and ‘Odio por Amor’ -- so maybe one of those songs.”

The Colombian superstar also revealed that he will be performing one of the songs with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

“I hope he can enjoy what we’re going to do,” said Juanes of His Holiness.

You can catch the live stream of Saturday’s Festival of Families here.