Pope Shouts Out Philadelphia (Once) in Speech to Congress

The Pope also talked about a bunch of other topics, too, including immigration, global warming and the death penalty.

First, off, let’s get to the point: The pope mentioned Philadelphia in his address to Congress!

I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families.

Yeah, that was the only part. But at that point, someone preemptively clapped for the shoutout. Now that’s a Philadelphian.

Besides his Philly shout-out, the pope told a joint session of Congress he was addressing “those who strive each day to do an honest days work, to bring home the daily bread.” Pope Francis spoke of four Americans in history that he admired: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

Francis used the lives of those four Americans to hit his major points: He wants the death penalty abolished. He wants Americans to show compassion for immigrants. He wants to give hope to those around the world stuck in extreme poverty. And he wants the world to take steps to fight global warming, as he wrote in an encyclical earlier this year.

“You are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face,” he told Congress.

Probably the strongest statement Francis made during his address was on the death penalty:

This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

(A bit before this, the pope’s invocation of the Golden Rule got a standing ovation.)

He also asked Congress to take a major stance on climate change:

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. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a culture of care and an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature. We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power, and to put technology at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral.

The Pope also had one great burn on the current Congress:

A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces.

A full transcript of Pope Francis’ speech is available here.