Pope Francis was not afraid to critique Congress in his historic address on Capitol Hill, calling on the body to do better in several areas of political debate.
AARP released online survey results of people 50-plus and their opinions on some of the most topical issues of the day.
“Despite Pope Francis’ progressive stance on climate change and economic equity, he has taken a back seat when it comes to reproductive health and women’s rights”, said Alexander Sanger, board member of the worldwide Planned Parenthood Federation for the Western Hemisphere Region, in a statement Friday.
But he said climate change and what people are referring to as extreme weather – “that’s the new one because weather tends to be a little more extreme” – is a natural phenomenon.
In an approximately 40-minute speech, the pope commended positions supported by both parties.
“I call for a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps, and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity”, Francis said.
“Knowing that the Pope knows that we’re doing good work, that’s incredibly exciting”, said Erik Moss, Program Supervisor with Catholic Charities of Dallas.
After the address, the pope decided he would eat his lunch with D.C.’s “most vulnerable”-not Speaker John Boehner (who wept during his speech), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but D.C.’s charities and homeless instead”. The pope has said he will allow priests to grant absolution for abortion, which the Catholic Church views as a grave sin. “Thank you very much and God Bless America!” he concluded. When he spoke of the need to protect human life- a reference to abortion and a smatter of applause when he called for the abolition of the death penalty globally.
Several Republican presidential candidates were in the audience, including retired neurologist Ben Carson, Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
His remarks on the family drew an immediate standing ovation from Republicans; Democrats eventually rose as well as a sign of respect.
A paragraph in the prepared text quotes briefly from the Declaration of Independence – the passage on self-evident truths – and then says, “If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it can not be a slave to the economy and finance”.
Pope Francis waves from his Fiat 500L as he leaves the Catholic Charities in Washington, Thursday, September 24, 2015, after blessing a lunch for charity workers and the needy.