Pope to Congress: Use the “Golden Rule” and work for the common good

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2015/09/24/pope-talks-to-congress/

Invoking the names of four Americans he admires, Pope Francis called on American politicians to work for the common good during his historic speech before a joint session of Congress on Thursday.

In his hour-long speech, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics touched on a variety of broad themes including violence, justice, and religious freedom.

As spiritual leaders and pastors, popes normally operate above the political fray, but Pope Francis waded into politically controversial territory Thursday by explicitly calling for the abolition of the death penalty, noting that “every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity.”

He pointed to Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton as examples of those who embodied American ideals of liberty, justice, and pluralism.

Day was a journalist and activist for social justice, and Merton, a Trappist monk and writer who promoted peace and dialogue.

With “In God We Trust” inscribed on the marble above him, Pope Francis’s speech was met was with frequent applause and standing ovations bookending his remarks.

“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,” he urged Congress.

The pope especially urged care and concern for the vulnerable people he is known to champion: refugees, immigrants and the impoverished.

“Let us remember the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’” he said. “In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”

He added that the Golden Rule also applies to “our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.”

With current controversy in Congress over funding Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, these remarks took on a seemingly political cast.

The pontiff spoke clearly about the need to defend the family, and concluded his speech with a reminder of the “essential” nature of the family to America’s growth.

“I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without,” he said. “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.”

He criticized a culture that “pressures young people not to start a family” either through lack of economic resources, an overabundance of choices, and an obsession with individualism.

The pope will finish his U.S. visit with an appearance at the eighth World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

He also urged lawmakers to act with care and concern in dealing with immigration, poverty, and the environment, which he referred to as “our common home.” These issues, which he also touched on in his speech at the White House Wednesday, will likely be harnessed by politicians on both sides of the political aisle when advocating for various legislative policies.

The pope, who is considered an advocate of the poor, followed the speech by paying a visit to some of the Capitol’s homeless at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, before departing for New York City.

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or @karabettis