In his historic first papal address to US Congress on Thursday September 22, Pope Francis urged the leaders of America to be more accepting of immigrants to the country. He praised the country’s role in the world as a place that has “inspired so many people to dream”, and invoked images of many American icons such as Martin Luther King Jr and Abraham Lincoln, but also said that lawmakers need to put aside their political differences for the people who travel to America in search of a better life. He believes that there is a “paralysis” in Congress preventing reform on not only immigration policies, but climate change and other issues as well, and it is their responsibility to help grow the nation, not let it stagnate.
The Pope’s address included indirect comments on the USA’s recent moves towards marriage equality and the country’s views on abortion, but he refrained from openly taking a stand against them. He did, however, clearly state his views on climate change, saying that the United States has an obligation to lead the charge on reform for other countries to follow suit.
“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,” he said. “I am convinced that we can make a difference – I’m sure. 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.”