Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was among the Cabinet members who attended the speech, as was EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who had to be pleased with the pope’s environmental message.
In the same address, the pontiff renewed his call for ending the death penalty, and for better treatment of the poor and disadvantaged.
“Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family”, he said.
Yet the pope spoke to a Congress that has been in deadlock on immigration legislation, where a few politicians have balked at Obama administration plans to accept more of the migrants from Syria and elsewhere who are now flooding Europe.
As Pope Francis made a historic speech before a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, a few local students were watching. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: “to discard whatever proves troublesome”.
“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”, he declared. These topics, among others, were addressed during his speech to Congress on September 24, but the reaction from a few fans on the Fox News Facebook page weren’t so welcoming.
In a year of political divisiveness, Pope Francis emerged as a global political leader rather a moral and spiritual voice alone. I ask you all, please pray for me. Yet barely an hour after the pontiff left the Capitol, the White House issued a forceful veto threat on legislation before the Senate that would redirect funding from Planned Parenthood because of the videos that show its officials bluntly discussing abortion procedures.
He warned against “religious fundamentalism of all types” because it encourages hatred and promotes war.
“In prayer there is no first or second class”, Pope Francis said.
When Pope Francis leaves, our challenges and struggles will remain. “Climate change threatens our way of life and our future, and we must work together to ensure our children and grandchildren inherit a better world”. Just 26 percent of the 1,832 adults polled September 17-21 said they disagreed with Francis’ call.
The Pope continued, “Sadly, the rights of those who lived [in North and South America] were not respected”.
It is perhaps a testament to the goodwill for Pope Francis that his remarks were met with no apparent hostility, and he received several standing ovations.