Pope Francis speaks at the US Capitol and United Nations. The leader of 1.2 million Catholics presents his thoughts on issues both spiritual and political. High on the list war and peace, social justice, environmental care, migration and family
The text of the speech the pontiff of the Catholic church delivered to the US Congress.
As he speaks with newly improved English, behind him John Boehner is reported to have “tears in his eyes” and the following day he announces he will be resigning from Congress and his position as Republican leader. He explains that his invitation, as a Catholic, for the Pope to address a joint session, for the first time in history, was preceded on the day of the speech by a private visit and a “hug” and a request Francis made of him: “to please pray for me.” The Speaker of the House said he was moved in this moment and that over the course of the day and night he reflected and the next morning as he said his morning prayers he knew it was time to do what he intended to do for awhile — to resign and move on…
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Even as the Pope’s visit to Washington DC made waves and his speech highlighted four historic figures, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, rebels in their day, and Martin Luther King and Abraham with their calls for freedom and civil rights, the Pope spoke of his recent eco-encyclical on “Care for Our Common Home” and the critical importance of environmental rights and action on climate change.
The following day, travelling to New York and going before representatives of world nations at the UN, Pope Francis urged respect for a safe and healthy environment.
He welcomed the agreement between Iran and world powers on its nuclear deal, calling it “proof of the potential of political goodwill”.
He also called on financial agencies not to subject countries to “oppressive lending systems” that worsen poverty.
Going further into particulars he called for the ‘complete prohibition’ of nuclear weapons and, as described in news reports, “condemned the doctrine of deterrence as ‘an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations’. He encouraged the international community to work to fulfill both the letter and the spirit of the Non Proliferation Treaty which demands complete disarmament.”
The full text of the pope’s speech and video from NPR is here.
The impact of a religious leader in the halls of power is always difficult to measure. One tends to think of old ways of thinking, of armaments and divisions, raw force and strategic affairs that play out in a real world.
Yet times are changing as the connectivity of the 21st century brings together new realizations and common goals articulated by those who have faith.
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The June 2015 eco-encyclical of Pope Francis