The Pope plans to address Congress tomorrow following a mass service he will deliver tonight.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pope Francis immediately dove into the whirlpool of U.S. politics on Wednesday, using his first direct address to the American people to weigh in on deeply divisive issues including climate change, Cuba, marriage and immigration.
The pontiff, speaking before 11,000 ticketed guests at an elaborate welcoming ceremony on South Lawn of the White House, signaled he will take on controversial issues during his six-day visit.
In prepared remarks that were laced more with politics rather than overtly religious messages and Scripture, Francis said he was ready to listen to the “hopes and dreams of the American people” and to offer guidance to those charged with guiding the nation’s political future “in fidelity to its founding principles.”
In comments that could antagonize Republicans, Francis endorsed President Barack Obama‘s efforts on climate change and rebuilding ties with Cuba after more than half a century of estrangement.
He said it was “encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem that can no longer be left to a future generation.”
“When it comes to the care of our ‘common home’ we are living at a critical moment of history.”
Francis also made reference to one of the central themes of his papacy: that the modern global economy is enriching the few at the expense of the many.
“I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development,” Francis said.
But he also delivered a firm defense of traditional values, warning that the institution of marriage and family needed to be protected at “a critical moment in the history of our civilization,” remarks that could irk liberals months after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide.
He said that it was right that society was “tolerant and inclusive” but warned that American Catholics were “concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions.”
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Article Courtesy of CNN and WJW Fox 8 News Cleveland
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