Institutions Politics

6 things to expect in the pope’s address to Congress

Pope Francis waves as he leaves after visiting the parish of San Michele Archangelo in Rome February 8, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito. * Editors: This photo can only be used with RNS-VATICAN-REFORM, transmitted on Feb. 9, 2015 or with RNS-POPE-ITINERARY, originally transmitted on June 30, 2015.
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, arrives for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican in this Oct. 8, 2014, file photo. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, arrives for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican in this Oct. 8, 2014, file photo. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) Everyone wants Congress to stop fighting and get working, and that includes Pope Francis, a top adviser said Wednesday (April 29) in a preview of the pope’s upcoming U.S. trip.

The Argentine-born pontiff has never been to the U.S., but he will make history in September as the first pope to address a joint meeting of the House and Senate on Capitol Hill.

“The pope will come humbly but will talk clearly,” Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, a top adviser to Francis, told an audience at Georgetown University.

The 72-year-old cardinal, who leads Francis’ nine-member advisory council of cardinals, is spending several days in Washington and offered a look inside the pope’s thinking as the nation’s capital readies the papal welcome mat.

The papal address to the Republican-controlled Congress is likely to be one of the most closely watched talks during the pope’s weeklong visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia this fall, especially since the presidential campaign season will be growing more intense.

Francis isn’t shy about tackling controversial topics or upending conventional orthodoxies about Catholics and politics — a prospect that makes U.S. conservatives especially nervous, given Francis’ insistence on raising concerns about issues such as economic justice, climate change and immigration.

And Francis isn’t likely to change his tune, Maradiaga said as he previewed some of the pope’s likely themes. Among the points that Maradiaga expects Francis to make in September:

Welcome immigrants:

Maradiaga reiterated that Francis would have liked to enter the U.S. by crossing the border with Mexico to make a point about welcoming immigrants, not building walls to keep them out. He said that while time did not allow for a border stopover, the pontiff was certain to raise the issue on Capitol Hill.

“Even here, the desert cannot be a tomb or a cemetery,” he said, referring to the migrants who often die trying to cross into Arizona or Texas.

Battle economic inequality:

“Capitalism is not a god. It is not a divinity. It is not a system that is perfect and does not need any modification,” he said during a luncheon meeting. “This system is fostering tremendous inequalities.”

A just economy means strong families:

Maradiaga indicated that promoting an economy that helps the struggling middle class and the poor in particular will also be key to the pope’s message of support for the family:

“The (free) market economy is not complete. We need a social market economy. This is the big contribution of the Catholic faith to the system — to try to have this social component that will bring more justice to the system,” he said. “It is not fair that a system that is producing so much richness could walk side by side with so much poverty.”

Protect the environment:

Francis is going to publish a major teaching document on the environment ahead of his U.S. visit, and observers expect the encyclical to accept the reality of climate change and mankind’s role in it, and to call for action to address the dangers:

“Do not expect statistics or numbers or theories” in the encyclical, Maradiaga said. “He will go directly to the responsibility of all the baptized, especially with creation. Because all of us have responsibility.

“I am clear. We cannot continue playing with creation and contaminating” the Earth, Maradiaga said. The pope seems to agree with him and will raise the issue in September — much to the consternation of many conservatives who have been trying to blunt the document’s impact even before it is published.

Fight partisanship:

“For many Catholics, first is the political party, then is the church,” Maradiaga said.

“I see this in some attitudes of citizens who are first Republicans or Democrats. Then comes Catholicism. This is a big problem. Because we have to put everything in order. God is first, then all other human institutions.”

Promote dialogue, not ideology:

“One of the conditions for a true dialogue is to have peace in your soul, peace in your personality, to be persons of peace. But when you are in the trenches, trying to defend ideologies, you’re not capable of a true dialogue,” Maradiaga said.

“Even the congresspeople can listen to other voices, to counsels, to advisers. It’s a human attitude that we have to develop. The one who receives advice commits less errors and is not mistaken. The one who does not like to listen to advice will have a lot of trouble. So I think the Congress will receive very well the advice (of the pope) — even if there are some things that will not be comfortable.”

Indeed, Maradiaga said both he and the pope are aware of the opposition he faces from many activists and pundits in the U.S., even as polls show that he is enormously popular with Catholics and the wider public, and across the political spectrum.

At a noon Mass in the university chapel, Maradiaga added an impromptu supplication to the prayers during the liturgy:

“Let us pray for the visit of our Pope Francis to the United States,” he intoned. “It won’t be easy, but it will be a great blessing.”

KRE/MG END GIBSON

About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.

57 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • If you really want to do something for the poor, you need to restore INDUSTRIAL JOBS.

    The first step toward that restoration is to drastically reduce environmental nonsense. Environmentalism eliminated all the good jobs that were open to low-skilled men.

    The second step is to firmly control trade and immigration. Outsourcing and immigration starve the poor and enrich the rich.

    Antipope Francine PRETENDS to favor the poor, but she is firmly on the side of the plutocrats in all three areas. She is thus a pure faker and scamster, serving Morgan and Goldman above all.

  • Pope may also stick it to Congress for its worship of guns and the widespread availability of weapons which harm children.

    He could well admonish them for sacrificing their children to Moloch

  • Since the pope strays from God, and doesn’t follow the teaching of Christ,but rather believes that he is an intercessor between man and God aka “vicor of Christ.” When in fact scripture states that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and Jesus alone is the path to reconciliation to God, not through man or church but through fellowship and relationship with God through Christ.
    The only reason that the pope is coming to congress and the UN is to promote the global agenda through the guise of sustainable development, which sounds good until they try to micromanage the world and everyone in it.The pope and politicians aren’t God and have no right to force their will on people.There is separation of church and state for a reason, stay in the vatican,If your so concerned with the poor how about you use the churches wealth to benefit humanity and lead by example instead of talking the talk.

  • Industrial jobs are not sustainable and they do nothing but promote waste and consumerism. This is about moral obligations, not about if it creates more income or more pointless consumerism.

    We need less industry and more restoration, preservation and community outreach. Capitalism really is to blame for the civil injustices that take place in our world.

    I’m telling you that I support socialism; and, I support socialism because it’s the right thing to do — not because i’ll get rich, not because I’ll create a captivating segway to further instant gratification, but because socialism is the only way to ensure that all 7 billion people on this planet are treated humanely and with respect.

    Resources should be shared for all, and used conservatively.We live on one planet, isolated in a vast universe, with no where else to go. Our planet is our home – not your house, not your neighborhood, not your employer. It’s time conervative america feels guilty for greed…

  • You support socialism when you spend every other line of text to argue against it?

    Socialist nations always close their borders and limit immigration to a minimum. Socialist nations always focus on industry at the cost of culture and the environment. Socialist nations always have much less resources for everyone than non-socialist nations. Resources are not just iron and gold which you can dig out from the ground. It’s tools, clothes, food, real estate, culture etc. Those must be produced before they can be redistributed.

    Soviet and Pre-reformist communist china where the biggest sinners when it came to pollution and poverty alike. With virtually no exception they where followed by other socialist nations.

  • Socialism will consist of two classes: the global elite rich and the working poor. Which one do you think you’ll be?

  • Yes, that is what ISIS is saying and look what country they live in. Religion needs to be clearly separated from government. Whoever wishes can have God first in his private life but not for a country.

  • Well put. SHAME ON CONGRESS, SHAME ON THE SENATE for letting the pope address the nation. The founding fathers, who fled the catholic church’s influence are turning in their graves.

  • e Scandinavian countries are the most happy and financially successful in the world and they have Democratic Socialism. Basically, capitalism and socialism are “economic” systems while Communism and Democracy are political systems. The problem occurs when too few people gobble up control over a system (without proper regulation) which happens politically, as in Communism, OR financially, as in Capitalism. Companies should give employees a vote rather than CEOs concerned only about shareholders and making a profit. Employee owners would not send their own jobs overseas, would care about their community and environment and would be more likely to be loyal to the USA. See the talk by Richard Wolff on Youtube called “A Cure for Capitalism – Palo Alto, wherein he talks about successful employee-owned companies in Spain (Mondrago) and even the USA. http://youtu.be/guSdjsctrUQ Bernie Sanders supports employee-owned companies. They should get the subsidies and “corporate welfare” that…

  • If micromanaging equates to “regulations” against greed and power to protect us from monopolies, oligopolies, oligarchy, and totalitarianism then I’d say it’s a great thing. I’m not a Catholic but I love this new Pope. When the Supreme Court dictates and decrees that companies have the rights of citizens and that money equals free speech, I believe it’s time for a moral leader to stand up and say “NO.” In the eyes of the world, the Pope IS the moral leader. The only time recorded in the Bible that Jesus got physically angry was against the Pharisees, the richest religious sect and money-changers that had turned God’s house into a den of thieves. I agree that the separation of State and Religion are a good thing that was built into U.S. law, but to deny the world’s moral leader a voice before Congress is to suggest we must muzzle our hearts.

  • He will certainly slip in something about the religions coming together under common themes of “social justice”. New York Catholic Charities is asking Americans of all religions to record a video of themselves quoting Matthew 25:35 in preparation for his arrival: “For I was hungry and you gave me food,
    I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
    I was a stranger and you welcomed me …” How sad that the words of our Lord can be used to hail the arrival of a false prophet who will no doubt call on our government to take on more and more financial burdens in the name of “social justice”. Not to mention that neither Matthew 25:35 nor any other verse in the bible does someone of no religion any good if they do not come to Jesus Christ by His way: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)

  • If you lean in real close and take a peek, you can just make out the 729 bar code stamped on the Pope’s little white cap..

  • The real “Beast” of the Bible is a very different person. Instead of being a frightening person, he will be greatly honored, respected, and loved by the majority of the world. He will also be accepted as the prophesied Christ to rule the world in peace and prosperity. When this anti-christian kingdom is finally destroyed, the world will not rejoice in thanksgiving for their release from oppression and Satanic control. They will do just the opposite. People will “weep and mourn” over Babylon’s collapse (Revelation 18:11). They will “bewail” and “lament” because this kingdom of human excellence and perfection has come to an end (18:9). Trade and craft will have reached dazzling heights of prosperity under the “Beast” (18:15, 17-19, 22). Culture and the fine arts will show the apex of human accomplishment during his reign (18:22).

    The Number of the Beast

    The “Beast” has the number 666 associated with him. The King James Version says that it is “the number of a man” (Revelation…

  • We all truly know why the Pope is coming. It is recorded in the bible. The Vatican has millions and millions of dollars so if he wants so bad to help the poor why doesn’t he start with himself?

  • So glad you said this. There are no examples of successful truly socialistic states. Can’t happen and the first place we need to look for the reason is to ourselves. Human nature. I lived in the former Soviet Union as a student. Think their system worked? Please. No system is perfect, but capitalism has contributed far more than socialism ever can to the wellbeing of humanity. I can’t stand it when people speak from a position of simple emotionalism and don’t refer to history and what we know to be true about ourselves. People like this need to grow up and take a hard look at reality.

  • You talk about things you know nothing about. Most of the enviornmental laws are there for a reason, that reason being that the big wigs decided to poison you water supply by dumping chemicals in it, rather than handling it properly.

    Also they’d love to go ahead and cut down all the forests so their friends in the cattle industry could set up with them to get land grants for pastures, and then turn around and sell it to companies who will drill for more oil.

    You would know this if you worked in banking/lending or actually did any research on your own.

    As for outsourcing, you’re right. It’s destroying the middle class. However, immigrants are not taking jobs. If they are, what jobs are they taking? Lawn care? Day laborers on farms? Some construction jobs like roofing? Hardly anyone wants to do them anyway since we’ve moved into a tertiary based society.

  • The reason Jesus got mad at the money changers is because they were doing the money changing on the Sabbath, Saturday. The 4th Commandment. To collect money and or tithe on the Sabbath is what upsets Jesus Christ.

  • “The world’s moral leader” ?? OK, he may be the world’s “moral leader,” and your “moral leader,” and love him all you want. He’s not my “moral leader.” My moral leader does not worship statues, and pardons thousands of pedophiles and sex offenders, and relocates their bishoprics. My “moral leader” is Jesus Christ, who is not of this world, and I am not of this world; I’m just passing by.

  • Great observation. But at the same time love will wax cold. It will appear to be the greatest time in history for man kind, but it will be a false peace. Christians, like you and me, however, will be hated of all men and persecuted to the point of death. Also keep in mind that the “Beast” is the unified global system. There is also the False Prophet which goes before the Beast. The Anti-Christ (False Messiah) is also called the “Beast,” but he is the “Image of the Beast.” So, I do believe that the papacy (any pope that fills the office) may be the False Prophet, or perhaps just one or chief among a company of false prophets that collectively make “The False Prophet.” After all remember that frog-like demons are in them that perform miracles and deceive the nations.

  • Addressing poverty in America must be a first priority. The founders of the United States of America (as well as the first members of We the People) fully understood Pope Francis I’s description of the hardships caused by unfettered capitalism and markets without any limits. America’s founders rejected the notion that the few who possessed extraordinary amounts of money should rule. Rather, they entered into an agreement among all Americans that money should serve We the People. In other words, all Americans have already agreed with Pope Francis: “Money must serve, not rule!” The Agreement among We the People already mandates that wealth must serve to fulfill the human rights of all Americans and that the few who have extraordinary wealth shall not rule the many. The Declaration of Independence evidences all Americans’ agreement to Human Rights Capitalism. See https://goo.gl/AgAc2a

  • Addressing poverty in America must be a first priority. The founders of the United States of America (as well as the first members of We the People) fully understood Pope Francis I’s description of the hardships caused by unfettered capitalism and markets without any limits. America’s founders rejected the notion that the few who possessed extraordinary amounts of money should rule. Rather, they entered into an agreement among all Americans that money should serve We the People. In other words, all Americans have already agreed with Pope Francis: “Money must serve, not rule!” The Agreement among We the People already mandates that wealth must serve to fulfill the human rights of all Americans and that the few who have extraordinary wealth shall not rule the many. The Declaration of Independence evidences all Americans’ agreement to Human Rights Capitalism. See https://goo.gl/AgAc2a

  • Addressing poverty in America must be a first priority. The founders of the United States of America (as well as the first members of We the People) fully understood Pope Francis I’s description of the hardships caused by unfettered capitalism and markets without any limits. America’s founders rejected the notion that the few who possessed extraordinary amounts of money should rule. Rather, they entered into an agreement among all Americans that money should serve We the People. In other words, all Americans have already agreed with Pope Francis: “Money must serve, not rule!” The Agreement among We the People already mandates that wealth must serve to fulfill the human rights of all Americans and that the few who have extraordinary wealth shall not rule the many. The Declaration of Independence evidences all Americans’ agreement to Human Rights Capitalism. See https://goo.gl/AgAc2a

  • I’m wondering about this very issue….. Isn’t there suppose to be a clear line between CHURCH and STATE?? I don’t understand why the Pope, who obviously only speaks for ONE religion is speaking to our government iffimcials on taxpayers dime?
    #confusedandconcernedcitizen

  • In response, I’m always reminded of The Lord’s Prayer “…on earth as it is in heaven.” I also wonder what Jesus meant when he said, “You knew me not.” The Samaritans were a religious group disdained by others and Jesus used them for his example of kindness. To me, the gist seems to be that you love God by loving your fellow man. I get the sense that preferring judgement above love is safer because empathy hurts and is too tangled up with the concept of responsibility. The easiest way to avoid your heart getting involved is to hold the other guy — even the Pope — responsible. I think it’s crucial to engage moral values rather than ignore them.

  • Have you ever read the Bible in it’s entirety? You will find in there that we are all supposed to put god before everything, not only in our private lives but in EVERYTHING we do, meaning the works we perform. We aren’t supposed to only follow him when our jobs determine when it is ok to follow him and his son Jesus’ teachings. If you are a true follower of God and Jesus then it must reflect in all aspects of your life, we will still make mistakes when we turn from him but through meaningful repentance and determination to not keep making the same mistakes over and over, we will better ourselves. Also accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour with your heart and mouth are the only ways to be found faithful and be accepted into the new heaven and earth that will reign after the end of this world. Jesus said the door to salvation is narrow. Very few people today will not get a flood of negativity when they speak of the bible anywhere, which makes me wonder how close is the end?

  • “There are no examples of successful truly socialistic states.” ? The Scandinavian countries are Democratic Socialists and by scientific polls rate themselves far happier than we rate our “capitalistic” system However, I’d like to provide One Example of our Capitalistic system that may make you think twice. –According to Robert Kennedy, Jr., $300 Billion of minerals have been extracted from U.S. top soil by FOREIGN corporations for paying only $5 an acre under the 1872 Mining Act ( protected by Republicans). If any individual or company files a patent on any piece of private property or Federal land you can mine the surface minerals. A few years ago a Canadian company extracted $16 Billion of gold for $1,600. Even worse, patent holders are not required to clean up. 500,000 old mines have been left behind in the West leaching Arsenic, Cyanide, Mercury, Manganese into our western waters. 40% of the waters of head streams have now been poisoned by toxic chemicals left behind for…

  • Also, this ‘Pope’ does not follow Jesus Christ or God. His god is Lucifer who is the Devil and Satan also having many other names. Please do some research on your own to find out for yourself who this Pope follows. He calls Lucifer ‘god’ and Christ ‘Lucifer’s son’. He says that a personal relationship with Christ is dangerous therefore we need to go through him or his ‘ordained’ ministers. His title is ‘ Vicar of Jesus Christ’ literally meaning substitute or instead of Jesus Christ which is blasphemy of God and his Word. Please read the Bible to hear what it really says for yourself. Nowhere in the Bible does it mention Catholicism, you will not find any scripture giving any man on Earth any authority to act for Jesus or the father, concluding that his ‘rule’ is also blasphemy. This ‘Pope’ has no power or authority but that which he gains through Satan.

  • I appreciate the comments posted under “Life Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness” of which I completely agree. I like Jesus’s words “You shall know them by their fruits.” The question becomes: If one’s fruits of “loving God” never include loving your fellow man (even when you’ve declared Jesus your Savior), is such declaration still valid? I’m not partial to spiritual pecking orders deciding worth by ticking off boxes. I’m only glad I’m not Catholic because it allows me to assess this moral leader by his actions and not others’ words interpreting him.

  • Guns?? If lives are what you concerned about then how come you didn’t mention the more than 100 million Christians and Jews this little horn power, this 1st beast of revelation 13 murdered in it 1260 years of world domination? Or the billions she will kill when the deadly wound is healed? …..guns. That socialist mindset can blind you from actual topics of importance. Babylon has fallen has fallen, come out of her. When church and state are united in America, then you will see how scary this spiritual battle really is. God bless you

ADVERTISEMENTs