Pope Francis is the first pontiff to ever speak to Congress, and his speech was incredibly moving, a passionate call for the United States to love and support each other — and end the death penalty immediately.
Pope Francis spoke calmly and authoritatively before the Senate and House of Representatives in a joint session of Congress, calling for the end to the death penalty, advocating for the rehabilitation of prisoners instead. While the pope spoke passionately about so many things important to his heart, this definitely was a shock to hear.
“I would like to call for the global abolition of the death penalty,” Pope Francis urged as he stood before Congress. “I am convinced…that society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Not only do I support the abolition of the death penalty, but I also encourage, to all those unconvinced, that punishment must never discount hope, and the rehabilitation of prisoners.”
What a definitive statement. Pope Francis called for the protection of all life, even those who have made mistakes in their lives and committed crimes. As pope, of course he is passionate about the just treatment of all human beings; his message is to spread peace and understanding throughout the world. And that’s exactly what he called for.
“Do unto others as they do to you,” Pope Francis said to raucous applause. “This point will ask in clear direction, that we give the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. The possibilities which we seek for ourselves, give those same possibilities to others. If we want to grow, help others to grow. Help others as we would try to help ourselves.”
Amazing. His perspective is that the people of the United States should treat anyone in their country, including foreigners, refugees around the world, and minorities, with respect and dignity — something many need to hear right now. He cited the inspirational work of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton — two journalists who spread the word of Catholicism wide. His speech was a testament to his high respect and admiration of the United States, and the American people. Amazing.
This was one of Pope Francis’ last stops in Washington, D.C. before departing for New York City on the second stop of his trip to the United States. In D.C., the pope was certainly busy. He was welcomed to the nation warmly by President Obama on September 23, and made his way around town in a spectacular parade. In addition, he celebrated mass with some of the city’s holy leaders.
HollywoodLifers, what did you think of Pope Francis’ speech before Congress? Do you agree with any of the points he made? Tell us in the comments!
— Samantha Wilson