Pope at White House urges action on climate change, promotes religious liberty

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2015/09/23/popes-white-house-speech/

Following a solemn but energetic ceremony before thousands gathered on the White House South Lawn, Pope Francis spoke briefly in English, emphasizing the need to focus on climate change and promoting religious freedom.

On environmental issues, referring to his recent encyclical on climate change, the pope lauded President Barack Obama for fighting air pollution and urged him to continue those efforts.

“Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation,” the pope said. “As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.”

The pope also reminded the president that true tolerance and justice includes the “right to religious liberty.”

“That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions,” he said. “And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.”

These points were especially significant following a remark yesterday that he is not “left-ish.” The comment led to some media speculation as to his political meaning.

During a press briefing Wednesday morning Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, clarified that the pope meant that he speaks only in the tradition or social doctrine of the church.

“This is an apostolic journey to the entire church in the United States,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said during the briefing. “He comes as a pastor, he comes as a shepherd… He’s inviting us all to rise above what may divide us culturally or politically.”

On Thursday morning, the pope will speak to a joint meeting of Congress and hinted in his remarks at the White House that he will encourage “fidelity to founding principles” of the U.S.

Following the speech to Congress, he will depart for New York City, and conclude his visit in Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, “to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization,” he said.

 Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or @karabettis