Pope Francis’ visit to America was supposed to be about promoting families. But in a speech before a joint session of Congress yesterday, he touched on many politically-charged squabbles that have existed among members of Congress and American citizens for years, frustrating some Roman Catholic conservatives.
Francis waded into bitter disputes while speaking to Congress, saying the nation should share more of its immense wealth with those less fortunate. He urged Congress and the nation to abolish the death penalty, to fight global warming, and embrace immigrants. Lawmakers gave ovations to the leader of the world’s Catholics despite obvious conservative disagreements over some of his pleas.
Besides his focus on climate change and immigration, he denounced arms sales and seemed to allude approvingly to the Iran nuclear deal and recent actions by President Barack Obama’s administration to open relations with Cuba, done with his urging.
Republicans heard something to like in his references to the sanctity of life and family relations, reminders that even the more open Catholic Church over which Francis presides still condemns abortion and gay marriage.
His mention of climate change drew standing cheers from Democrats while Republicans stood to applaud the reference to opposing abortion. Republicans in particular also loudly applauded as he asserted the importance of family life and bemoaned that “fundamental relationships are being called into question as is the very basis of marriage and the family.” The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage, recently legalized by the Supreme Court.
His visit hasn’t been all political shots, however. At an evening prayer service in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, he thanked American nuns for their strength and courage in a deeply meaningful acknowledgement of their service following a yearslong Vatican crackdown.
Friday, the pope will address world leaders at the United Nations, participate in an interfaith service at the Sept. 11 memorial and celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden. He will visit a school in Harlem and take a drive through Central Park, part of a whirlwind tour of the Big Apple that got off to a quintessential welcome with a high school brass band serenading him with “New York, New York,” on the airport tarmac.
Francis wraps up his 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this story
Phil Sargent says
What wealth might he be referring to?…Didn’t anyone tell him that we are 19 trillion in debt already, and no way out…Yet the politicians keep spending money that we don’t have…All that phony printed funny money will bite us in the a$$….How many refugees have the Vatican welcomed in?
Alicia Salinas says
Just take a look at the amount of money that goes into elections. Please stop crying lies.
If he is so interested in the welfare of individuals, why does the Catholic Church sell of some of it’s wealth to help the poor. Hypocrisy runs strong in this Pope.
Alicia Salinas says
No you are wrong, he has been helping the poor with finances and others need. You just don’t know about it. If you read the bbible, or if your religion is bible based, you will see that this Pope walks the Talk of Jesus.
Justin Wachin says
Here’s some ideas of how we can help the poor: 1.) Change the whole concept of our welfare programs to help transition able-bodied people into the workforce so they can become productive members of society. For too long welfare has kept its victims trapped in poverty. 2.) Change our tax system. We currently tax the producers and earners. We should consider moving from an income tax to a consumption tax. Under the consumption system the tax would be applied to purchases. This would encourage people to buy less. This would help meet Francis’ concerns about consumerism and the climate. Has anyone considered how much energy and resources goes into making products?
Immigrants who come to America should come expecting to work. They should understand that they must obey our existing immigration laws and that if they break the law within our borders they will face deportation.
How much carbon pollution was created by this pope’s trip to America and by those who traveled to see him? There’s nothing like traveling around the world complaining about pollution while creating large amounts of pollution.
Texas Son says
The Church also teaches “thou shalt not lie.” I think the illegal immigrants need to be reminded that lying and cheating is a sin!! Why are we (the U.S) rewarding people who do not respect our immigration laws?? If they don’t respect our border, do you really think they will respect other laws in our country? Life principle: What is tolerated usually increases. Just like your own home, you have every right to screen who comes into your home. Well, America is our home. And we, the citizens of the U.S., have every right to screen and know who the hell is coming into our country/home. Stop political-correctness intimidation!!!