Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–September 24, 2015
I thank His Holiness Pope Francis for sharing his vision for the world before a Joint Meeting of Congress. He called on us as legislators and as Americans to promote the common good and meet our common needs. His message was powerful – that we need to look out for each other and for the planet we all call home.
This country is the richest on the face of the earth at the richest time in our history. Yet one in six Americans lives below the poverty line. As Francis said, “I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope.” The Church has worked to provide aid to the poor around the world, but the Pope rightly pointed out that Congress has a responsibility, too. We must work to address growing inequality that has left many Americans worse off.
The Pope has also focused on the need for wealthy nations to open their doors to immigrants seeking a better life. As he prompted us, “Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.” I share the Pontiff’s view that we have a responsibility to treat immigrants from all over the world in a humane way, and we must increase the number of refugees we welcome and enact comprehensive immigration reform to help meet that obligation.
His Holiness also reiterated the message of his Papal Encyclical On Care for Our Common Home. “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.’” Francis reminded Congress and our country, as only he can, the importance of acting boldly now to combat climate change.
The Pope’s focus on Catholic values of reducing poverty, respecting immigrants, and protecting the earth have already made our world a better place, and I look forward to his continued work on those issues. His address today was a calling for Congress to take a more active role in addressing the greatest challenges of our time. I will work to ensure we do just that.