Washington (AP) Pope Francis opened his historic speech to Congress by describing himself as a “son of this great continent” joined in a common purpose with America. The Argentine-born pope is the first from the Americas and his speech to Congress is the first by any pontiff. A bipartisan group of congressional leaders escorted him up the […]
Washington (AP) Pope Francis opened his historic speech to Congress by describing himself as a “son of this great continent” joined in a common purpose with America.
The Argentine-born pope is the first from the Americas and his speech to Congress is the first by any pontiff. A bipartisan group of congressional leaders escorted him up the aisle for his speech in the House chamber, as tens of thousands waited outside.
The Pope’s historic speech addressed several issues, including religion, immigration, and same sex marriage. Here’s the breakdown of the speech:
Pope Francis is calling for a “delicate balance” in fighting religious extremism to ensure that fundamental freedoms aren’t trampled at the same time.
He says in his speech to Congress that “no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.”
He says religious, intellectual and individual freedoms must be safeguarded, while combatting violence perpetrated in the name of religion.
The pope cautions against simplistically breaking the world into camps of good and evil.
Francis has expressed deep concern about the slaughter of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East at the hands of Islamic extremists, fearing that the Christian presence in the region is risk. He’s dispatched envoys to Iraq with money and other forms of assistance to help refugees.
Pope Francis is urging Congress members – and the United States as a whole – not to be afraid of immigrants but to welcome them as fellow human beings.
He says people are not things that can be discarded just because they are troublesome.
The pontiff’s admonition comes as the presidential race is roiled by questions about immigration from Mexico and Latin America, and the nation is weighing how many migrants to accept from wars in the Middle East.
The son of Italian immigrants to Argentina himself, Francis noted that the United States was founded by immigrants, that many lawmakers are descended from foreigners, and that this generation must not “turn their back on our neighbors.”
His plea: “Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.”
Speaking to Congress, Pope Francis is calling for an end to the death penalty in the U.S. and across the world.
Francis says that every life is sacred and society can only benefit from rehabilitating those convicted of crimes.
The pope noted that U.S. bishops have renewed their call to abolish capital punishment. That idea is unpopular, however, with many American politicians.
The pontiff did not specifically mention abortion – a particularly contentious issue in Congress at the moment that threatens to force the shutdown of the U.S. government next week.
Still, his remarks referred to the Catholic church’s opposition to abortion. He urged lawmakers and all Americans to “protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.”
Pope Francis has used his speech to Congress to express sympathy for American Indians for their “turbulent and violent” early contacts with arriving Europeans. But he says it is hard to judge past actions by today’s standards.
Francis did not specifically use the term American Indians. He said the rights of “those who were here long before us” were not always respected.
He says that “for those people and their nations,” he wants to express his highest esteem and appreciation.
Francis has been criticized by some Native Americans for his decision to canonize an 18th century missionary, Junipero Serra, on Wednesday. Indigenous groups say Serra was part of the violent colonizing machine that wiped out indigenous populations. Francis has defended Serra as a great evangelizer who protected indigenous peoples from the abuses of colonizers.
Pope Francis is demanding an end to the arms trade, delivering a tough message to a country that is the world’s largest exporter of weapons.
Speaking before Congress, the pope asked why weapons are being sold to people who intend only to inflict suffering on innocents. He said: “Sadly, the answer as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.”
Francis has in the past denounced weapons makers and dealers as “the root of evil” and questioned how weapons manufacturers can call themselves Christian.
Francis has, however, said that it is legitimate to use military force against an “unjust aggression,” such as the attacks by Islamic extremists against Christian and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq.
Pope Francis is lamenting that the very basis of marriage and family life today is being put into question – an allusion to gay marriage in a country that recently legalized same-sex marriage across the land.
Speaking before Congress in the first-ever papal address, Francis said the family today is “threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without.”
While Francis has shown great openness to gays as individuals, he has staunchly upheld the church teaching that marriage is a union between man and woman.
Sitting in front of Francis for his speech was John Roberts, chief justice of the Supreme Court, which legalized gay marriage across the country.
Francis is expected to speak in greater depth about the threats to families at a big church rally in Philadelphia later this week.