At Congress, Pope urges US to heal wounded world

In an historic address to a joint session of the US Congress, Pope Francis challenged US lawmakers and the nation to heal the “open wounds” of the world.

The 45-minute address by Pope Francis on September 24 was the first time a Roman Pontiff had addressed this body of US lawmakers.

The Pope’s speech featured a powerful defence of immigration, a critique of the excesses of capitalism, an endorsement of environmental legislation, a blistering condemnation of the arms trade and a plea to abolish the death penalty.

He also defended religious liberty and the family, saying that the “very basis of marriage and the family” is being called into question.

At one point in his speech, the Pope cited four famous Americans.

“A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to ‘dream’ of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.”

In particular, Francis beseeched the US not to let money drive its decisions at the expense of humanity.

“Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one, the greatest common good.”

After entering the chamber to thunderous applause, he said the world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since World War Two, and noted the immense challenges that the crisis presents.

“We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us once were foreigners,” the Pope said.

He said the US must see migrants as persons, not as numbers.

After finishing with the words “God bless America”, the Pope received a prolonged standing ovation.

House speaker John Boehner, who sat behind the pontiff, appeared to be moved to tears during the speech.

After his speech, the Pope shared a meal with homeless people.


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