During a historic address to the U.S. Congress on Thursday, Pope Francis, the son of immigrants, issued a clarion call for America’s elected officials to embrace newcomers to this country as their own children and cast aside political differences, according to a transcript of the speech at The Washington Post.
Noting America’s challenges with immigration reform, he urged lawmakers to view newcomers “as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.” He also tackled issues of racial and social injustice and abolishment of the death penalty.
Here are four times Pope Francis discussed issues that matter to people of color during his address:
He hailed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in fight against inequality.
“I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his ‘dream’ of full civil and political rights for African-Americans,” he said. “That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of ‘dreams.’” Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.”
He advocated for social justice.
“Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people,” the Pope said. “All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’”
He implored Congress to accept immigrants.
“In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation.”
“Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation,” said Pope Francis. “You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics.”
The Pope called for the abolishment 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,” he said of advocating to abolish the death penalty. “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.”
SOURCE: The Washington Post | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
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