My thoughts on Pope Francis’ historic address before Congress
Pope Francis spoke with incredible power and empathy about the struggles and difficult decisions that Americans encounter on a regular basis — and about our responsibility as legislators to care for our world, our families, and our neighbors in need.
Here in Washington, we obsess over our divisions. They derail our agenda in Congress; they dominate headlines and fuel our politics. But today Pope Francis transcended politics and reminded us of all that unites us — the tireless pursuit of the common good, our commitment to caring for the vulnerable, protecting the basic human rights of every individual, creating a more just and sustainable society, and safeguarding our precious planet.
I was touched to hear the Pope describe America as “a land of dreams” built on the promise of a future of freedom. And I hope it will reawaken in Congress a resolve to ensure that we remain a land of hope for millions of aspiring Americans. As His Holiness said, we must not repeat the errors of previous generations that turned away refugees in need, focusing on trivial racial and ethnic differences instead of on the shared humanity that unites us all.
Pope Francis reminded us this morning of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As politicians, it is easy to nod our heads and affirm our commitment to that mission. But as representatives of the people entrusted with enacting policies on their behalf, how do we carry it out?
Do we turn a blind eye to the children and families fleeing violence and danger in their home country and seeking to start a new life in the United States? Or do we greet them as our ancestors were greeted: with the promise that with hard work and commitment to their new homeland, they, too, can achieve the American dream?
Do we content ourselves with an education system that has prevented generations of students from reaching their full potential? Or do we get to work building a world-class system that provides every kid the education they deserve, regardless of their zip code, race, background, or socioeconomic class?
Do we put the looming threat of global climate change comfortably out of our minds, leaving the problem to our kids and grandkids to deal with? Or do we confront the challenge now, acting on our moral obligation to leave the world a better place than when we found it?
I’m grateful to Pope Francis for sharing his wisdom with our nation, and I trust that his inspiring words will motivate Congress to act with renewed purpose toward our shared goal of making our nation a beacon of opportunity for today’s generation and all that will follow.