Pope Francis Discusses The Purpose of Politics in His Address to Congress

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
25 Sep 2015

Pope Francis arrived to Congress in his Fiat 500 and immediately headed to a meeting with House Speaker John Boehner, who is Catholic.

"Your Holiness, welcome. Really glad that you're here."
Once the Speaker met with the Pope, he headed to the House chamber for his speech. Supreme Court justices, bishops, presidential cabinet members, cardinals, and members of Congress filled the room. The Pope was introduced by Boehner.

"Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you Pope Francis of the Holy See."

He then became the first Pope to address a joint meeting of Congress.

The Pope's speech almost immediately brought Boehner to tears. It wouldn't take long before plenty of others in the audience joined him.

He began by speaking about the purpose of politics.

"You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics."

The Pope mentioned that he is also a son of America, and he made a powerful argument in favor of accepting immigrants.

"In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners."

He honored the memory of four consequential Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. Then he invoked a phrase that drew heavy praise.

"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.'"

As was expected, the Pope also discussed climate change and his ecology encyclical, "Laudato Si." He said that the U.S. was uniquely able to contribute to fixing the environment.

"I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States - and this Congress - have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a 'culture of care' and 'an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.'"

And as he is heading to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, the Pope also remembered to include a note about the family.

"I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life."

Following the speech, Pope Francis stopped before a statue of Fr. Junipero Serra and then appeared on a balcony in front of thousands of cheering people.

"Father of all, bless these people. Bless each of them. Bless the families. Bless them all. And I ask you all please, to pray for me and if there are those among you who do not believe, or cannot pray, I ask please that you send good wishes my way."

"Thank you. Thank you very much. And God bless America."

Jumping back into his Fiat 500, the Pope left the company of some of the most powerful people in the world to go enjoy lunch with some of Washington's homeless community.